Thursday, May 15, 2008

World Service drama

The Writers' Guild has written to Nigel Chapman, Director of BBC World Service, to complain about the recent decline in drama output.

In her letter, Guild Deputy General Secretary, Anne Hogben, says that "the decline in World Service Drama since 2005 represents a loss of over 100 hours of commissions for writers and over 600 days of work for actors."

Before 2005, she continues, "a play and two episodes of the popular ongoing series, Westway, were broadcast each week. Now it would appear that just eight plays will be made in-house and only fourteen plays in total will be broadcast per year. We are, of course, relieved that the drama slot still remains, but it is just not enough."

Urging Chapman to reverse the decline in drama and commit to producing at least 26 new plays per year, Hogben concludes that: "If you are unable to do so, we will urge Mark Thompson, the BBC Trust, the Foreign Office and Parliament to assist us."


  1. Drama is the jewel in the crown of BBC Radio, which they do better than anyone in the world. Continuing the weak metaphor, why is the BBC so careless with the nation's crown jewels?

  2. if you feel strongly about the decline in drama slots on the BBC World Service please join the Facebook group called Writers' Guild World Service Campaign



  3. You're right, Anne, everyone should join because when scripted Radio shows are cut on any of their channels or in any genre, there's a huge knock-on effect across our entire industry. We all know classic series like Alan Partridge and Little Britain started on radio; but major playwrights like Alan Bennett have first written radio versions of their plays which have gone on to be hits in other media.

    When will the BBC realise that cutting down on its core function, which is to produce original programmes and dramas, is short-sighted and disastrous for both the industry and, more importantly, their audience.


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