Down to the wire

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY PAY TV -

HIS Bal­ti­more-set se­ries The Wire has been dubbed the best TV pro­gram ever made, with a cult world­wide fol­low­ing, but David Si­mon is ‘‘amazed’’ his screen ca­reer is still alive.

Though crit­i­cally ac­claimed, The Wire met with poor rat­ings when it aired in the US from 2002-08.

‘‘Of all the peo­ple who’ve never found an au­di­ence, I have the long­est and most vi­able ca­reer of any­body,’’ the crimere­porter-turned-TV-au­teur tells a mas­ter­class at the Forum des Im­ages film cen­tre in Paris.

‘‘Ev­ery year I am more and more amazed. The joke is, when view­ers started show­ing up we were two years, three years off the air. They were find­ing it on DVD and through word of mouth.’’

The Wire – which por­trays the dif­fer­ent facets of Bal­ti­more, from drug-rav­aged hous­ing projects, to down-at-heel docks, crum­bling pub­lic schools and cor­rupt in­sti­tu­tions – was nearly pulled twice from US ca­ble net­work HBO be­cause it lacked view­ers.

‘‘I set about writ­ing memos, and beg­ging, and wrapping my arms around the legs of HBO ex­ec­u­tives,’’ says Si­mon.

‘‘I couldn’t bear the thought of not fin­ish­ing the story.’’

Si­mon at­tributes low rat­ings to a largely African-Amer­i­can cast, com­plex plot and use of thick street jar­gon, though it has gone on to be­come well watched on DVD.

He went on to cre­ate the se­ries Treme, about a cast of char­ac­ters re­build­ing their lives in Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina-rav­aged New Orleans, which has just re­ceived the green light for a fourth and fi­nal sea­son. What’s next for Si­mon? ‘‘At some point HBO may fig­ure out that no­body’s watch­ing what I do,’’ he says. ‘‘I al­ways keep one suit­case packed.’’

Mon­days, 7.30pm; en­cores Tuesdays, Wed­nes­days, Fri­days, var­i­ous times, Show­case.

Do­minic West.

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