Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On the BBC and ITV...

A guest post by Gail Renard, Chair of the WGGB TV Committee

I’ve been asked to comment on all the current ITV/ BBC fiascoes but there aren’t enough hours in the day. Just some quick thoughts:
  • Please will the BBC stop moaning that about not getting the licence fee they wanted, which they, you, I and even remote hermits living high atop mountains with no contact with the outside world for 30 years knew they wouldn’t get? I didn’t get the fee I wanted for my last BBC series either but with the aid of support groups and EST, I’ve learned to cope. Deal with it.
  • Ditto the “Cookie”/ “Socks” crisis which has accounted for more TV hours than the current Children’s TV programming output.
  • Some TV stars are paid how much?
  • The BBC said they’ll make fewer shows, but of greater excellence and quality. What does the BBC think that we writers have been doing all these years? We’re not exactly holding back our best work, though I refuse to answer for “Anthea Turner: Perfect Housewife.”
  • No, really. Some TV stars are paid how much?
  • Also, can someone please explain to me, and to them, what executive producers do?
  • Is there some new definition of “zero tolerance” which seems to apply to some ITV series and not to others? Discuss. Illustrate. Draw map.
  • Free the Ant and Dec two.
  • And whilst the BBC claim that many of their financial woes come from bringing new technology and digital channels to a grateful nation and they need to be cut some slack, may I respectfully point out the incredible array of services quietly and impressively offered to us by Channel 4? Let me count the ways: there’s C4 itself, C4 + 1, E4, E4 + 1, More4, More4 (all together now:) +1, Channel 4 on demand, C4 catch up service, 10 new C4 radio channels (count ’em, 10!) and I’ve not yet seen what they’ve launched today. Do you get the picture? All launched smoothly and professionally without excuses, tantrums or a licence fee in sight. C4 just deliver their services to appreciative customers who know what they’re getting, in the same user-friendly way that they’ve learned to order pizza and pole dancers. It’s not rocket science. Okay it’s almost rocket science, but C4 still manage to do it.
Don’t get me wrong. I love television and want to go on loving it even though it's not been made easy lately. British television used to be envied internationally as the best in the world, thanks to its talent, integrity, inventiveness and pure joy. Please let’s get back to the raison d’être of all writers and TV companies: making original programmes of which we and the viewers are proud. Now there’s a novel thought.

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