Hunted axed: Melissa George's UK show dumped due to poor ratings

Axed ... Melissa George in Hunted.
Axed ... Melissa George in Hunted.

Hunted, the British spy drama starring Australian actress Melissa George, has been cancelled.

The series had been flagged as a possible successor to the BBC's long-running espionage franchise Spooks, but falling ratings in the UK have sealed its fate.

Hunted launched in October in the UK to an audience of 4.5 million but it has since slipped to only 2.6 million.

The UK newspaper The Guardian confirmed overnight the series would not return.

It is damaging news from an Australian perspective, as the series has not yet launched here. It begins on SBS on November 24.

The series also attracted headlines for the wrong reasons in Australia, after George unleashed her frustration with a television program focusing on her Home & Away years during a promotional appearance for Hunted earlier this month.

George was unhappy that Seven's The Morning Show brought up her role as Angel in Home & Away.

"I don't need credibility from my country any more, I just need them all to be quiet. If they have nothing intelligent to say, please don't speak to me any more. I'd rather be having a croissant and a little espresso in Paris or walking my French bulldog in New York City." she said.

"I've got to be honest. I'm not going to be a good Aussie any more. I'm going to speak out. I've just had it."

Only one series of eight episodes has been produced. Its British production company, Kudos, is owned by Shine, the media group created by Elisabeth Murdoch and later sold to News Corporation for almost US$700 million

"[Hunted] hasn't found the mainstream audience it was hoped," a BBC spokesperson told The Guardian.

There was enormous pressure on the series in the UK, as it was screened on BBC1, the BBC's flagship channel, where the expectation of delivering high ratings is greatest.

Despite the cancellation, there is still one potential lifeline that could save Hunted.

The series is a co-production between the BBC and the HBO-owned US channel Cinemax. If Cinemax were to fund a second series on their own, or find another broadcast partner for it, they would not need the BBC's permission to do so.

During interviews earlier this month, George indicated a second season was in the planning stages, and that it would be set in Berlin.

Respected television critic Alison Graham, who writes for the 89-year-old British weekly Radio Times, said Hunted was ultimately undone by its confusing plot.

"Every week I've felt as if I've been given a big sack of Lego of varying sizes and colours, which I have to shake onto the floor," Graham wrote. "Then I have to construct an elliptical, multi-level, Escher-like structure full of feints and dead ends."

This story Hunted axed: Melissa George's UK show dumped due to poor ratings first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.