Tuesday 20 August 2019

Emphasis on the new in BBC One programming for Christmas

BBC One's Christmas output will be 90% new programmes, managers said
BBC One's Christmas output will be 90% new programmes, managers said

BBC One will boast "more than 90%" of new programmes in peak time over Christmas, the acting director of television has announced.

Speaking at a BBC TV Christmas Press Launch, Mark Linsey said there will be fewer repeats between 6pm and 10.30pm.

" Firstly, it's important to reiterate that no one invests as much in original programming over Christmas as the BBC," he stated.

" We are still finalising our schedules, but I can promise you that in BBC One peak time, more than 90% of programmes will be brand new.

"I think this is an impressive commitment, not least given the BBC is facing unprecedented financial pressure and is in the process of saving £1.6 billion.

"These cuts will make the challenge even more difficult in future, but we will always try to offer our best shows in Christmas peak time," he stated.

However, Mr Linsey also defended the decision for some festive repeats as long as they are "used carefully".

"But many people appreciate - or even expect - a chance to watch old favourites again," he said.

"Five million tuned into a repeat of Mrs Brown's Boys last year and we shouldn't forget that online video streaming services that are growing so rapidly right now mainly offer programmes from the archive."

He continued: "So we should make no apology for giving viewers another chance to watch some classic BBC programmes and modern family favourites again, as long as they are used carefully and offered alongside a distinctive mix of new programmes, like we have this Christmas."

Mr Linsey hailed this year's Christmas line-up, which includes Sherlock, Doctor Who, Luther and Strictly Come Dancing, as "the BBC's best ever".

"How could a commitment to distinctiveness be clearer than one that includes documentaries such as Attenborough on the Great Barrier Reef, gold-standard drama like And Then There Were None or Sherlock and world-beating entertainment like Strictly Come Dancing?"

He also touched on the debate sparked by the Government's consultation paper on the future of the BBC.

" The truth is that some of the claims made against us during Charter are, like the Christmas board game, Balderdash."

Linsey also hailed an "amazing" year for the BBC, naming just a few of the achievements.

"We had Wolf Hall - BBC Two's most successful drama in a decade, the national moment that was The Great British Bake Off, the unprecedented ambition of Big Blue Live, and Strictly waltzing back in dazzling form.

"Our output stretched from Poldark to People Just Do Nothing. Professor Green's documentary on suicide to Peter Kay's brilliant Car Share."

He concluded with a reminder about the BBC's value for money.

"We know viewers have high expectations of the BBC - especially at this time of year - but consider what you get for your £12 of Licence Fee in December.

"You get all those brilliant TV programmes, but also our outstanding radio stations, our world class news and our superb online services. A ll, incidentally, for roughly the same price as it costs to download season seven of Keeping Up With The Kardashians."

PA Media

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