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Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Hurrah for the BBC

Anyone in the UK who isn't following Criminal Justice on BBC1 this week, check it out. You can see the previous episodes on BBC iPlayer. For those unfamiliar, it's a tense drama following the build-up to and aftermath of a woman stabbing her husband. Why did she do it? Will she, or should she, go to prison? What will happen to her family? The writing, by Peter Moffat, is naturalistic, taut and thoroughly engrossing.

Since HBO has been making British drama look a bit pallid lately, it's nice to see the BBC come up swinging with something genuinely good. Since the extreme right also seem to have their sights on the BBC - terrifyingly, as with privatised television we'll lose TV journalism that doesn't depend on serving the business turn of whatever wealthy corporation owns the station, meaning that reportage will take a horrible swing away from neutrality - it's also worth reminding ourselves that the BBC doesn't just produce decent news but decent drama. Excellent drama, in fact.

As well as truly outstanding, world-beating nature documentaries. Life, the new David Attenborough series, starts next Monday. And if you're in the UK and not planning to watch it, what on earth is wrong with you?

Say it with me: we love the BBC and don't want it messed with. We love the BBC and don't want it messed with.

Is this a follow up to the one last year with Ben Wishaw? 'Cause that was really, really good.
Heck, I'm all the way in America and I don't want the BBC to be messed with! Many of your fine shows eventually wash up on our shores to land on PBS (since the commercial networks can't handle them, for much the same reasons, I suspect, that the right-wing nutjobs can't handle them.) I would hate to be deprived of that.
Yes, it's a follow-up, Cornelia, though I believe with an entirely different plot, hooray for not flogging a dead horse. I haven't seen the previous one; LoveFilm will be hearing from me about this.

Is PBS the public channel, Sheila? Do you have stuff that supports the commercial-networks-can't-handle-them theory? I ask because if the BBC does come under serious attack I intend to yell about this a lot more, and as I doubt the attacks on the BBC are unconnected with corporations abroad, this kind of thing could be useful ammo.
I'm hoping that "Life" ends up on the cable Discovery Channel here in the US. I think that "Planet Earth" was a BBC co-production with DIscovery; NurseCat and I found it riveting.

Also, as you commented on the other blog, if the BBC were to be disassembled I'd then lose my beloved "Doctor Who" (which I did first see on local PBS).
PBS is indeed the Public Broadcasting Service. Unlike network television, they don't run advertisements but instead are funded by donation drives that run a couple of times a year, in addition to grants from the federal government. This may be the main reason that BBC shows tend to wind up there--since they're not structured to break for commercials the way network shows have to be.

Interestingly, there's been some similar pressure from the right-wing nutjobs over here that PBS has too much of a "liberal bias" and there have been threats to cut funding that, as I recall, were pretty much shot down by hordes of angry parents who do not want "Sesame Street" messed with. (I'm simplifying things terribly here.) I don't know if I'd chalk it up to pressure from corporations directly (many companies do make large "hey, look how cool and progressive we are" donations to PBS, after all) but more from the 'conservative' mindset that finds reality a little too liberal to handle. (See also: the Conservative Bible Project.)
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