Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Guild attacks Silver Street axing

Following the announcement by the BBC that they are axing the BBC Asian Network soap opera, Silver Street, the Writers' Guild of Great Britain has issued the following press release:
The threatened axing of the BBC Asian Network soap opera Silver Street would lead to a significant reduction in opportunities for writers and actors in the West Midlands and beyond, says the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. The ending of the programme next March would also further undermine radio drama production in Birmingham.

Launched in 2004 as a 10-minute-a-day radio soap set in a diverse community in a fictional West Midlands city, the 'Asian Archers' was cut from 10 to 8 minutes in 2008, and from eight to five earlier this year. Having axed Silver Street, the BBC proposes substituting ten 30-minute plays per year – fewer than one a month – representing a cut from over 21 hours a year to five hours of drama on the Asian Network.

Past writers for Silver Street include Sonali Bhattacharyya (now writing for EastEnders, Doctors, Casualty and Holby City) and Tanika Gupta (whose stage plays include Gladiator Games for Theatre Royal, Stratford East, and Sugar Mummies for the Royal Court, London). The ten writers currently working for the soap include Amber Lone and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, both of whom have had work presented by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Writers' Guild President David Edgar, who is a member of the Guild's West Midlands Branch, commented:

'The axing of Silver Street would represent a significant loss of opportunity for talented writers from many backgrounds – as well as actors and producers – in the West Midlands. The decision represents a further threat to radio production in Birmingham, which has already suffered from the loss of one of its two dedicated drama producers. Birmingham's state-of-the-art radio studio is great for the Archers, but it should also create work which reflects the wide diversity of the region. New half-hour drama from the Asian Network is a highly welcome idea, but it should be in addition to rather than instead of Silver Street.'

The BBC should retain its commitment to drama which reflects the diverse communities it serves, says the Guild, as well as maintaining drama production across all regions.
Update: Here's how Broadcast is reporting the story.

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