Friday, 25 March 2011

The licence fee is your friend

This weekend, BBC3 broadcast an event called Frankenstein's Wedding...Live In Leeds in which the original gothic science fiction story was retold in a mix of live acting, song, dance and filmed inserts. The final event was a curate's egg for some, but we thought caught the essential power of the story (see the link).

What got us thinking, though, is who else but the BBC would have even considered commissioning something like this? ITV? Five? We don't think so. Only the BBC because of the licence fee source of finance can take the risk on non-commercial minority programming. Because let's be clear about this, science fiction and fantasy is minority programming.

Take a look at the recent BBC output in this area - Outcasts, The Deep, Being Human, Survivors, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Whistle And I'll Come To You and, of course, Doctor Who. OK, the quality has been variable at best, but you can't fault the committment to home grown science fiction and fantasy.

What have the other main channels produced? ITV brought us Marchlands and Primeval (which only came back thanks to creating financing in part paid for by BBC America!) and Sky Living gave us Bedlam. And that's it.

The non-BBC channels bring us tonnes of science fiction and fantasy from America and we're not complaining about that, but if you are a fan of British science fiction then it is clear that the licence fee is your friend and long may it continue.

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