Hauling Like A Brooligan

Stephen Gallagher

The BBC – The New ITV?

In Broadcast, Katherine Rushton reports:

The BBC is to hand network commissioning power to the nations for the first time in what is being hailed as a “radical reshaping” of its structure. Chief operating officer Caroline Thomson is planning to recruit at least five new commissioning executives across BBC Scotland, BBC Wales and BBC Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, over in The Guardian, we read that the BBC is considering dividing up Jane Tranter’s drama commissioning responsibilities after she leaves for the US.

Reading the Broadcast report, it looks as if only BBC Scotland’s Anne Mensah, with whom I worked on Life Line, is a drama person. Most of the proposed commissioning power appears to lie in the area of factual, daytime, and ‘entertainment’.

But am I the only one who sees this as an ideal opportunity to devolve the over-centralised, personality-focused BBC drama commissioning procedure into something more resembling the old, successful, ‘federal’ system of ITV, before asset-stripping and consolidation turned it from a showbusiness giant into today’s dull monoculture?

Jane Tranter’s done a fine job but a ‘one gatekeeper’ system is flawed at heart, whoever the gatekeeper may be.

2 responses to “The BBC – The New ITV?”

  1. Sounds hopeful to me. The problem of having “one gatekeeper” inevitably leads to TV execs’ version of “Chinese Whispers,” or “Broken Telephone” to our American friends.

    An over-eagerly production Munchkin overhears Tina Exec proclaim she likes the colour blue (when in fact she’s said, “Ah-choo!”)

    Forever more that Munchkin rejects all pink or green or yellow scripts that come its way in its elusive hunt for that blue script. Of course if the triumphant Munchkin ever found a blue script and put it on Tina’s desk, he’d be immediately executed because she really likes red. Or did she say she needs some bread?

  2. My understanding is that these regional commissions will have to be approved by the overall head of whatever anyway. That being the case, I’m not sure it’s going to make much difference.

    Personally I think the BBC have lost their way in recent years as far as drama is concerned. Where are the drama equivalents of comedies such as The Office, Little Britain, Alan Partrdge etc? Programmes and characters that have entered the nations consciencness?

    Dr Who, Life on Mars and ……..?