Mad Men's Christina Hendricks

Mad Men's Christina Hendricks

In the past, TV was always held back by the size of it's wallet. The movies were able to make the big budget blockbusters, the controversial think-pieces and tense thrillers all while stealing the best players from the land of TV.

Now though, the threat that film executives feared in the 1950s is coming true. TV can now easily and repeatedly beat whatever the multiplexes have coming out.

While the major networks both in the UK and the US had shows that would rake in the viewing figures and regularly spawn movie spin offs, the idea of marque tv really kicked on when HBO got involved.

Originally the home of pay-per-view boxing matches and films, this Stateside premium cable network finally decided in the late nineties it was going to try it's hand at making it's own stuff instead.

Starting with prison drama OZ, HBO was on to a winner straight away. Critically hailed, but largely unseen, it's no-holds-barred look at life in maximum security set the stall for HBO's future.

Over the next decade, HBO would revolutionise television single handedly. It wasn't just prestige shows like the critically adored crime dramas The Sopranos and The Wire.

There were period blockbusters like Deadwood, Band of Brothers and Rome. There were even a few giggles with comedies like Sex In The City and Curb Your Enthusiasm.

HBO changed what it meant to be have premium TV, and everyone else wanted in.

Shows like Dexter, Mad Men, The Shield and Breaking Bad suddenly started popping up, with budgets to match most films.

It's not just in the US either. The UK is now starting to produce TV just like this, with the grandiose Downton Abbey, the riveting Sherlock and the absolutley sublime The Shadow Line to name but a few successes.

With Sky saying that they're investing much more into UK content, we can be sure to look forward to more fantastic shows set in our back gardens.

Never ones to be outdone, HBO commissioned Boardwalk Empire, True Blood and the astronomically huge Game of Thrones and The Pacific.

Even the star power starting to catch up as well. Kate Winslet, Steve Buscemi and Danny McBridge have all starred in recent HBO shows.

Nearly all of HBO's content is so good, providers over here have been scrambling head over foot to get at it. While Channel 4 lead the race for so long, and still holds on to True Blood, Sky's aggressive tactics have claimed another victory.

With the launch of Sky Atlantic back in 2010, they now have to monopoly on the HBO's output, paying them £150 million for access to their entire catalogue until 2015.

With HBO now releasing master writer Alan Sorkin's latest drama Newsroom, next big thing Lena Dunham's Girls (both soon hitting Sky Atlantic over here) and planning massive productions of novels Dark Tower and American Gods, they show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

FemaleFirst Cameron Smith

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