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Published on February 16th, 2011 | by Meredith Burdett

Is the BBC Slow to Recommission?

A recent article published on The Guardian website has commented on the BBC’s output in terms of drama and how there simply isn’t enough of it due to budget.

Maggie Brown commentates on how the BBC seems to be putting out quality shows but with shorter runs to their name. The newest imagining of Just William is the cause of her contention as the writer notices that even though it’s a great show, the BBC will not be re commissioning it. Maggie feels that this is due to poor scheduling.

Another show she cites is Steven Moffat’s Sherlock, while seeing brilliant ratings and being well received by audiences will be back for just three more episodes this year as Moffat is stretched what with his production of the greatest show ever made (of course it’s Doctor Who).

One particularly interesting aspect of the article is the speed of re-commissioning and the reordering of new shows, in which Brown asks:

“There is also the issue of very slow re commissioning. Miranda Hart has been promoted to BBC1, but reportedly only heard she had won a third series of Miranda after Christmas. And why isn’t the BBC ordering series four at the same time? The suspicion is that programme commissions are being stretched out and their return pushed further into the future, including the World Service.”

Whilst these issues raise a valid point that things have been slower in number and production at the BBC in recent years it’s also interesting to look at Doctor Who within this context and see how lucky we really are.

Doctor Who has been given a new series year in, year out since 2005. We’re treated to additional Christmas specials and specially filmed inserts for charity events and even National Television Awards. This year, the series will come back three times, once in the spring, again in the autumn and once more at Christmas. During all this, we get books, audiobooks and magazines to pass the time with.

The show is always given the green light well in advance and its spin offs, Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures, are given fantastic budget and brilliant scheduling.

The BBC may be restructuring its policy on output but throughout all that, they’re keeping the Doctor Who universe alive and well and very much at the front line of their scheduling. Nothing lasts forever but let’s hope nothing will change anytime soon!


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About the Author


What happens when an eight year old kid watches the 1993 repeat run of Planet of the Daleks? He pretty much ends up here writing about the show that grabbed hold of him and never let go!

3 Responses to Is the BBC Slow to Recommission?

  1. Doctor Who aside (“WHAT!?!” I hear you cry!) I’d rather see less drama of a higher quality than more drama of mediocre quality. If that’s what modern budgets dictate for the BBC, then so be it.

    I wouldn’t put Miranda Hart in the former category, though. I did watch her self-titled sitcom but only as company during the lonely hours that I work from home… I don’t see what the fuss about her is, she’s mildly humorous but not sure she’s worth the amount of adulation that seems to be flooding her way at the moment.


  2. avatar 23skidoo says:

    I personally do think that sooner rather than later, if the BBC’s financial situation doesn’t improve, that they’re going to end up doing a co-production deal with somebody on Doctor Who. They may have to do co-production deals for everything. Keep an eye on how things go with the BBC/Starz agreement on Torchwood (without which, it appears, the BBC wouldn’t have made series 4 by itself, bear in mind). I see that very much as a trial balloon. If it works out to the good for the BBC, we could see them approach other shows like Who and Merlin and Sherlock in the same fashion. It’s not something I want to see happen, but if things get so tight at the BBC that it ends up becoming a “this or cancel” scenario (which, again, I wonder if was the case with Torchwood) or “this or do 6 episodes for a complete season” or “this or take two years off except for a couple of specials” (and this time without the excuse of letting Matt Smith go off and do Hamlet) – I’ll grin and bear it if, say, the HBO logo appeared on the front of Doctor Who!

  3. I don’t think the BBC would risk another co-production on Doctor Who. Not after the legal mess they got themselves into last time.

    A theatrical or animated series maybe, but definitely no a TV show. You can’t see Torchwood as a trial run as Torchwood wasn’t created by BBC staffers like Doctor Who was (and will have a short lifespan regardless.) Torchwood was created by RTD, as you know, which is why I don’t see this being a “trial balloon”, after all Rome and many other series have been co-productions between the BBC and foreign stations.

    In fact now I think on, Series 1 was a co-production with CBC in Canada. Which throws both of our arguments open ;)

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