When ITV cancelled Foyle’s War, its creator, Anthony Horowitz, said it was time to move on as there were “no more true stories
But perhaps he could be persuaded to find a couple more, after the 1940s detective drama topped a poll of shows that viewers would most like to see revived.
It would not be the first time that Foyle’s War has come back from the dead. ITV initially canned it in 2007, but such was the outcry from loyal fans that it returned three years later. The final episode was shown in 2015.
The Radio Times poll asked viewers to name their most missed programme from this century.
Foyle’s War came out ahead of shows including Downton Abbey, Spooks and Life on Mars.
The show starred Michael Kitchen as the eponymous detective, assisted by his driver, played by Honeysuckle Weeks. Stories took in the Blitz, Pearl Harbour, the end of the Second World War and the beginning of the Cold War.
Horowitz spent 17 years working on the show, writing 26 two-hour films, and saw it become one of ITV’s most loved dramas.
He said: “I’m really thrilled that Radio Times readers have voted Foyle’s War as the show they’d most like to come back. It reminds me that years ago, ITV decided to axe the show - we missed the whole of 1944 as a result - and it was only thanks to pressure from viewers that they were persuaded to change their minds.
“I wrote the last episode of Foyle’s War in 2014, but no matter where I am in the world, people still tell me how much it means to them. And the repeats still get high viewing figures.”
He is ready to write new episodes if ITV gets in touch. “I’d certainly be up for a Christmas special or two if anybody asked. There’s still that missing year to cover - it would actually make a whole series.
“Foyle’s War was a passion project for me from start to finish and I miss it to this day.”
In the poll of 3,000 viewers, second place went to The Bill, which ran from 1984-2010 and was cancelled amid declining ratings. ITV said at the time: “Times change, and so do the tastes of our audience.”
Count Arthur Strong, a comedy that transferred to television from Radio 4, was third, followed by Spooks, the long-running MI5 drama.
Fifth was Home Fires, another Second World War series, this one following the ladies of the Great Paxford Women’s Institute. Fans were so upset when it was cancelled in 2016 that a 21,000-strong petition was delivered to ITV’s studios.
Life on Mars, The Detectorists and Phoenix Nights also appeared in the top 10. Two other shows on the list are definitely set for a return.
The BBC is planning a new series of Happy Valley, the crime drama starring Sarah Lancashire. And Downton Abbey is coming back as a feature film, due for release in September, with a storyline that involves a visit from King George V and Queen Mary.
Most Missed TV Show of 21st Century
- Foyle’s War, ITV, 2002—15
- The Bill, ITV, 1984—2010
- Count Arthur Strong, BBC2/BBC1, 2013—17
- Spooks, BBC1 2002–2011
- Home Fires, ITV, 2015-16
- Life On Mars, BBC1, 2006—7
- Detectorists, BBC Four, 2014-17
- Downton Abbey, ITV, 2010-2015
- Phoenix Nights, C4, 2001-2
- Happy Valley, BBC 1 2014-16