Here at popfools, we like to try to keep it about the music. There have been occasions when we’ve wanted to write about TV shows, or films, or Formula 1, but we do like to try and keep it popfoolish. We think we’ve done a good job at keeping the blog musical and largely free of politics save for some thoughts on Margaret Thatcher. We know that there are a million and one more worthy causes we could be promoting here but we have found ourselves really rather angered by the BBC’s decision to axe youth TV station BBC3.
As firm believers in the nurturing of creativity and the existence of an output for fresh and original content, we find ourselves disheartened that the home of young and new British TV comedy is closing. A channel which almost 30% of its target demographic regularly tune in to. A channel which, when compared to its direct competitors (ITV2 and E4) looks distinctly superior in every way.
We find the scornful dismissal of shows such as ‘Snog Marry Avoid’ and ‘Sun Sex and Suspicious Parents’ as distasteful and wide of the mark. Firstly, such shows garnered a cult following and were staples of the channel because of their proven and continued popularity with viewers. Secondly, they were aimed towards a 16 – 29 demographic. So no wonder that those that are overwhelming writing such shows off are middle aged persons who likely never even tuned in to BBC3. Thirdly, they served their purpose and served it well.
Regardless, for every ‘Snog’ and ‘Sun’ there was a ream of new comedies and informative documentaries for viewers to choose from. Our favourite of the latter category were from Stacey Dooley, herself rising to fame via the channel’s ‘Blood Sweat and T-Shirts’ programme. They were often hard-hitting and always offered a genuinely interesting perspective on life in a way that was friendly and easily related to by her target audience. For example, here she is investigating Muslim Extremists. (She has also tackled such wide-ranging issues such as drugs, booze, sex trafficking, child soldiers, young female prisoners and gay-to-straight “conversion” camps.) We’re barely scratching the surface on the wealth of documentaries BBC3 have screened. With a blend of programmes showing different cultures – such as the recent ‘Secret of South America’ series and Reggie Yates’ South Africa series – and showing grim documentaries from closer to home – ‘Growing Up Poor’, ‘Young, British and Broke’, ‘Growing Up Skint’, ‘People Like Us’ – there was always something to engage the viewer and get them thinking in a down-to-earth way. (It’s hard to feel your life is truly awful whilst watching these sorts of programmes.) Meanwhile, a ream of programmes such as ‘Don’t Tell The Bride’, ‘World’s Strictest Parents’ and ‘Hotel of Mum and Dad’ were the perfect blend of factual and reality TV, re-capturing the televisual magic that the very first series of ‘Wife Swap’ created.
From one Stacey to another; everybody knows that ‘Gavin & Stacey’ started its life on BBC3; ‘Little Britain’s’ first TV broadcast was also on BBC3. Some more obscure comedies that we immensely enjoyed included Jack Whitehall’s brilliant ‘Bad Education’, the charming ‘Uncle’, and ‘Little Miss Joceyln’, although this really just is the tip of the iceberg. Giving new writers and stars the space to shine, the results were often very funny indeed. Furthermore, the low-risk platform of BBC3 gave visibility to a raft of comedies which would never otherwise have seen the light of day; being part of the BBC network, promotion to BBC2 (and even BBC1) was offered to the very best.
There was even original drama, with such shows as ‘Being Human’, ‘Torchwood’, and the one-off ‘Dis/Connected’ being ones that stick in the mind. And finally the bought-in content. ‘American Dad’ and ‘Family Guy’ are the most obvious shows in this category, but we’re not sure how we existed in a world without the excellent ‘Summer Heights High’ and ‘J’amie: Private School Girl’ being shown on national British TV. Chris Lilley you are so quiche and we super salute you.
Our government would claim to be cutting down across the board, yet in fact it is pandering to ‘the grey vote’ more than ever by guaranteeing a ‘triple lock’ on pensioners whilst young people’s real income freefalls and young people’s benefits are slashed. Now they’ve come for our TV channel too. (We hold nothing against BBC4 but if the BBC are desperate to cut costs it would have made far more sense for them to consolidate BBC2 with BBC4, for the two channels don’t seem far apart in terms of content and viewer demographics. By axing BBC3 they instead risk losing a big portion of the 16 – 29 demographic.)
Sign the change.org petition.
Don’t let them nip creativity and new writing in the bud.
Don’t let them take our TV channel away.
As fans of the creative industries – not just pop music, but drama and comedies too – we can’t stand by and do nothing whilst a viable and effervescent BBC3 is killed off.