28 August, 2008

David Hare on how the BBC killed the TV play

The Times:

"The BBC's abandonment of the single television play is a spineless betrayal of the playwright, the art and the public

It was odd that one of the most interesting and significant cultural occasions of 2008 received almost no newspaper or television coverage at all. On the afternoon of Saturday, July 5, the stage of the National Film Theatre on the South Bank was handed over to David Rose, the former head of television drama at BBC Birmingham. Over the course of a memorable session, he used film clips and his own recollections to explain how 30 years ago he had managed to employ, and in some cases introduce to the medium, such people as Mike Leigh, Alan Bleasdale, Willy Russell, Neville Smith, Stephen Frears, Alan Clarke, David Rudkin and Peter Terson.

It was, to all public knowledge, the first time that Rose had given such a talk. He outlined the intriguing passage of a life that took him from being the first producer of Z-Cars to becoming the man who initiated the brilliantly successful policy of making cinema-destined feature films for the new Channel 4 in the 1980s.

Not only did the press disdain to attend an event that illustrated the work of such a distinguished producer, but television itself seemed curiously abashed. Invitations to the present Director-General of the BBC and all those who work alongside him were refused. Television is always keen to celebrate itself in facetious or pompous ways, most of all as a sort of errant puppy forever fouling itself in the corner of your living room (One Thousand Worst Bloopers, etc). But it seems much less interested in the fascinating challenges of its own history. Everyone understands that contemporary BBC executives are far too busy jargonising to each other about delivery platforms and multi-choice environments to watch the actual programmes. "

Article in full

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