I've been getting sad recently about the closure of the BBC Television Centre. It is making me weep (or wee if you miss hear me). This may seem strange seeing as I have never worked there and I wasn't even a child fan. I don't think I knew where programmes were made or even cared who the BBC was. I wasn't one of those kids that wrote to the famous postcode - I just watched the TV for as many hours as my parents would let me. So you may be (although probably not) wondering why I am sad it's closing.
About 4 years ago I took more interest in the BBC. I noticed that all of the programmes I enjoyed watching came from the same place. The comedies I enjoyed; Morecambe and Wise, Absolutely Fabulous, French and Saunders, and Miranda, all came from the same studio. I became fascinated with comedy and I realised that that is what I wanted to do with my life (write comedy that is, not just spend my life being fascinated by it). When I heard that TV centre was closing I realised that if I ever fulfilled my dream it would never be filmed in those studios with the Greats and that is what made sad. There must be something in the air in those studios which allows for amazing comedies and shows to be made.
This got me thinking though, what happens when it's gone? Will the shows be as good? In my eyes, it has already gone downhill. The reason: the British Public. We complain about everything. We complain if someone makes a joke or a comment we don't agree with. Let me explain. Thirty years ago, two twenty year old girls wanted to make a comedy show. One was called French and the other Saunders. It was a big risk at the time putting two women on TV, especially two women that were going to mock men I might add. The BBC took the risk and in the words of Saunders, the execs said 'I'll put my dick on the table'. They took a risk. The first series went out and they made mistakes, the second series went out and the made less mistakes, by the third series they were in their element, but what would have happened if the BBC had looked at their first series and said 'No, let's take them off air'? The answer: we wouldn't have the greatest female comedy double act ever.
Even now, the BBC are making some pretty foolish decisions. I think Caitlin Moran told a story of a girl who pitched an idea for a show and the BBC said 'Oh we've already got a show based on women at the moment, come back in a year'. That is not right but as I said I completely blame the public (or pubic if I misspell it).
We are not letting the BBC take enough risks. Obviously we don't want to watch shit programmes all the time, but I think we need to let the BBC take more risks. To put on programmes that might need a series or two to come into their own, or put on shit programmes, so we find the next French and Saunders or Morecambe and Wise. The BBC thinks it knows exactly what we want, but we have told them that we want safe, predictable, risk-adverse programming. Imagine if Miranda Hart hadn't stood her ground when pitching her show? Miranda is a hugely popular, award-winning show that the BBC didn't know it wanted. Why though did Miranda have to dig her feet into the ground to stop them changing it? She made the BBC take a risk, but it was damn hard work for her. It shows that in order to get great programmes the BBC need to take risks and we need to accept that it won't always run smoothly, but it means we will get outstanding programmes as a result.
French and Saunders quit there show because they said that they were too old for sketch comedy and that it was a young persons game. In truth though it has also be rumoured that they left because the BBC thought they knew better. The BBC weren't letting them create the show that they wanted and so they quit. I think Saunders said that the people will pitch a show to the execs and they will say we don't want your show but how about writing this show instead. They think they know better and I am almost 100% certain they don't. I want to work in a better BBC. I may not be able to write a show that gets recorded in Studio 8, but I at least want to make a show in a respectable BBC that everybody loves. I keep trying to defend the BBC, saying how great it is, but recently it has become incredibly difficult.
So here is my letter to the BBC, I hope you agree:
Dear Mr Beeb,
We, the British Public, would like you to take more risks. We want you to trust the talent being born to make shows we want. We understand that it won't alway end well, but we know that risks need to be taken and we are fine with that. We want the BBC to have the spirit that was around when Morecambe and Wise and French and Saunders started out. We want a better BBC.
The British Public
ps. closing TV Centre was the biggest mistake you've ever made. We don't want you taking those kinds of risks, jut programming risks.