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Published on July 13th, 2014 | by Nick Kitchen

Could ITV Make Doctor Who And Sherlock?

In what can be best described as a head scratcher, Radio Times is reporting some changes that are coming to the way the BBC handles the licensing and production of its programming. BBC Director-General, Tony Hall, announced a plan that will allow rival production companies to produce BBC branded television, as well as allow BBC’s production company to produce shows for competing networks. To put this in perspective, this means that a competing network’s production company (ITV Studios, for example) can bid to produce Doctor Who.

When Hall unveiled this plan at The Future of the Licence Fee event, he called the proposed changes a “revolution”:

“If independent producers can take their ideas to any broadcaster around the world, I would want the same for the BBC. Proper competition and entrepreneurialism requires a level playing field. We should have regulation in the TV supply market only where it’s needed so that we can let creativity flourish… A level playing field doesn’t tilt.”

This isn’t necessarily a revolutionary idea. The majority of shows on American networks are produced by production companies not owned by the network. Even BBC1′s hit show Sherlock is produced by Moffat’s personal company Hartswood Films. What is of note, however, is the notion that the BBC might let an outside entity have creative control over its flagship programme. Of course, one might have a row as to whether that title belongs to Doctor Who or Sherlock based on global success and popularity, but neither Sherlock or the rest of the BBC’s stable of shows are setting world records and making waves with short showings at the box office.

While this isn’t necessarily something to worry about, it does beg a few questions. If another company takes over production, what happens to current staff and producers? Will the current cast carry on or will the new company insist on a fire sale? Will the BBC retain any creative rights to the program if it’s farmed out? Or is it a simple numbers game and the shift to move production to subsidiaries will keep things as status quo? Only time will really tell.

What say you, dear reader? A cause for concern or just an interesting current event for Doctor Who‘s parent company? Could you see Doctor Who and Sherlock produced by other TV channels in the UK, or would an independent company (or even BBC Worldwide) be a more likely proposition?

(With thanks to James)


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About the Author


“That’s bacon! Are you trying to poison me?” And from that line on, I’ve been unable to stop watching, reading, musing about the Doctor. As a recent transplant to the Whoniverse, I’ve been trying to soak up as much Who-related knowledge as possible. That journey has taken me from the Tenth Planet to the Fields of Trenzalore and gently set me at the edge of my seat for what’s next. It’s an honor to be here and I plan to bring a unique perspective. I hope you’ll enjoy the journey alongside me.

7 Responses to Could ITV Make Doctor Who And Sherlock?

  1. avatar Steve Freestone says:

    I can’t see the BBC letting go of one of their “crown jewel” programmes, because of huge industry it’s grown. To allow anyone else to produce it will also want a % of that industry, and I simply can’t see that the BBC accountants would allow this to happen, it would be a false economy.

  2. avatar Chris Walton says:

    The BBC is the producer of Doctor Who; there can be no other

  3. Pingback: Převezme ITV Doctora a Sherlocka? | Sherlock BBC Český fandom

  4. avatar Stephen K. says:

    They already do this to a degree with some shows. “Miranda” is made by iTV studios and is shown on BBC AFAIK

  5. avatar Ranger says:

    I can see this happening, but with a BBC person as overall producer/in control – so someone like Moffatt, employed by the BBC, being the overlord, but with the programme being independently made. This already happens with lesser shows. It saves money, and let’s face it, that’s all the BBC cares about nowadays.

  6. I doubt the Beeb would outsource Who to anyone, however for situation’s like the recent Ripper Street cancellation, petition and subsequent re-mount I think it’s a good move to keep shows on the air. The Toby Stephens spy show ‘Vexed’ had two series made by two different companies, so it’s not unheard of.

  7. avatar Rob Mammone says:

    What options gives value for money and maximises returns to the BBC?

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