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Read this: How 'British' is British TV?

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How 'British' is British TV?…



BBC sounds music Radio podcasts hello, this is the media show from BBC Radio 4 hello and well this week.

We're going to talk about British TV and britishness as you may well know this is boom time for TV production in the UK not least because of Netflix and Amazon but as the arrival streaming Giants risk diluting how British are TV programmes feel and as the industry expands should the UK aim to have more production hubs outside of London would help to make our TV more British no shortage of questions and I have just the people to answer them.

Let me introduce them to you starting with Sarah Doyle with the chief executive at production company it's behind Last Tango in Halifax It's a Sin and many many other successes Sarah welcome to the media show what's next? I wonder if you've had such a long run.

Some wonder what you've got up your sleeve next well.

We got been really busy and production this year.

We've got a big show for Netflix coming out beginning of next year another show that we just feel no return to ITV which interestingly we have to recreate a 5-star resort in Bolton the whole edition just talking about that and we've also just about we're just about to start huge show for Amazon based on a Neil Gaiman at novel so you really really busy.

I've got a lots of stuff in the pipeline.

So it's really exciting times actually more the impact the streamers have had on the way that you do business but bring in Tony word chief executive at Buccaneer Media the man who created the Only Way Is Essex and Tony as we talk about British nurse with certain to talk about drama.

I just wonder if you consider.

The way is Essex to be a drama series on maybe maybe I think was certainly true is that all of my training was in drama and only person on that team who had no idea.

I had absolutely no idea how to make a reality show so consequently.

I kind of pulled as much of it into my still possible in my head is a drama and I spent all about time referring to it as a reality drama.

So maybe very interesting about well.

It's a feel Redman he was knighted last year for services to broadcasting is a legendary figure in TV have been created Grange Hill Hollyoaks and Brookside and Phil I wonder britishness means to you in the context of making TV

I think this is really making TV that comes with the contemporary issues that are running through the country called leveling up and being left behind and I think you know that it's quite interesting this debate actually because we're almost to go back to the Future as well.

I came into the television in the 70s and 80s.

We had a strong TV and that was because we had any strong regional identity and the federated ITV and some people making programs within their region and whatever reasons and I fully understand.

We've allowed to fall away trusted back towards towards London and you said you say that with regret in your voice and through the half hour.

I'm interested to to explore what you think should be done to to reverse that trend but first of all let's explain why we're asking this question with the help of Chris Curtis is the editor broadcast which is the main news source for the TV industry Chris with talking about britishness because back in September the government started talking about it explicitly with reference to TV just bring us up-to-date on then.

There's a review going on Public Service Broadcasting in the UK and that's a very broad topic and it incorporates very important feature is not least the potential station is Channel 4 that's not the key issue in the British debate, but in assessing Public Service Broadcasting the government.

Seeing the job the BBC is going in reflecting the whole of the UK the job the Channel 4 is doing in reflecting the whole of the UK and the government has indicated slightly I would argue that it is minded too kind of protect britishness legislate to ensure that the PSPs deliver a certain quote to a British content when in fact I think all including the commercial PSP would say that that's precisely what 95% of their content already is the public service broadcasters do seem to be with more urgency to move some of their resources outside of London yes, and I think the BBC is very conscious of trying to make sure that licence fee payers in whatever part of the UK feel ownership of The Corporation feel a kinship with the corporation and one of the ways to it can do that is by making shows around around the country.

Also having creative decisions being made outside of London where the tastemakers the commissioners might see the world through a different perspective because they're not all sat in Shoreditch House shipping soy lattes and we yet if truth be told to really see the impact of that on the screen, but there will be an interesting test over the coming.

I don't know next 12-months.

I would say to the extent to which what control 4.2 output that speaks to its new creative perspective outside of London get into how those production hubs influence the kind of programs that are in a minute, but let's go one step back and look at the creation of those hubs in the first place.

So feel Redman if you were trying to create a hub or you are looking to expand an existing hob outside of London

Turn your experiences over several decades in the industry.

What do you think needs to be done to give that the best chance?

The creative centers University of Liverpool Brookside and he needs to have a long Vision and you need to have a strong commitment to stay with it these things don't just happen overnight and the idea that this is sorted by the BBC going to justify why the moving people outside to stop pointing towards want to make it outside London it's more than that you know because you can't do it by setting for programs away away from the capital you need to think about the 23-year programme of to Staines mitman to commissioning and output that he starts and reflect issues that happening.

Drama common now you know about the ideal education and it was happening across the North a really outside the capital and the kids coming through that kind of education system it was it was reflecting about what was changing in Britain when it was talking about post industrial Britain and the shift away from the manufacturing base and the whole thing again that was that was somebody that was happening outside the rest of the country.

It wasn't just that was a big story to me, that's why.

Finish the end about Meghan dramas.

That are plugging into exactly what's changing our Society and its production have pubs help to plug into what's happening in our Society what's the country you talked about the length of commissions and how that allows production operations to commit in the long term but Sarah Paul from red production company I wonder if it's also about reaching a critical mass businesses around one city of certain number of production companies a certain level of skills across the piece would that be your experience in Manchester I think anybody today in the UK running a drama indeed? It's the toughest business to be in for starters.

You cannot you need at least two shows in production through even sustain your overheads if you're going to keep any sort of your expertise in terms of legal accounting and all the things you need to a business and be made drama, so I agree with Sophia

There was a way that we knew just a little bit of what a future was for the next three years that would help a lot of the end is not Justin in the North but around the UK and out of London I mean a lot of India's are at the moment living hand-to-mouth on development money not even production money and that's a real kind of sorry state of affairs when we've got such a quince me britishness.

It's not about weirdly the contents.

I think it's about the skills we have here in the UK I think we have Will beating actors.

We have will be eating right is director's and we know how to do the process of making great drama and just interestingly much of that process knowledge has come from the big soaps that have always been based out of London are you guaranteed some training or skill expertise in production because you got coriander Dale Hollyoaks and you know you've got you've got big.

Shows that people can learn their skills on and then transfer onto the program production absolutely right you needed to retain all that kind of the level of discipline and you also raises an understanding you become more innovative technology at one of the things.

I think you've got such on this is me having started back in a bit since the 1980s with on the new technology.

I just didn't understand the way it's gonna be in the street by now to meet a technology with AI drivers software because the production should have to be quite easily managed and that's a problem again because all the time.

When Netflix and Amazon are coming over time the winter weather the price inflation in just a moment but Tony would I want to just come back to the practicalities of establishing these production hubs Sarah dolls already given us a list of things that she would when you look at a potential location to work in.

What are the things that you need and what support do you want either from National or regional government for that to be in place to start with we nine times out of ten.

We look for something.

That's appropriate to the idea and often the ideas that will generate are specific to particular location so we tend to go there.

I think I think the second factor for us.

Is is there any soft money is there any government or local film agency money?

Budget and then of course you're absolutely right from there onwards you need the skill set in the crew.

We we recently finished a show in Scotland will be working in Glasgow and Edinburgh and because it was straight after whichever lockdown.

It was at that point the the whole marketplace was flooded flooded with Global Productions massive strimmer Productions and so to fill the point for making a slightly different wage inflation rate inflation location-based location information that are so it was it was almost impossible to produce it really so so I think there's a double-edged sword here as well, which is that because we've been so successful in the creation of our incentives particularly the high-end Film and Television tax.

Census, it's meant that we're with flooded with other programming from elsewhere emissions from elsewhere that Hoover up our cruise, so I could action-based has got a just described which is that you have to keep growing skills within it and that takes years so that's what you want from a production base you've all made reference to the stream as several times already Chris Curtis from broadcast.

Let me bring you in here.

Can you help us understand the scale of the impact Amazon and Netflix in particular of had on the UK industry? I mean from UK ukplc point of you.

You have to say that in with investment is great news and actually from a UK independent production perspective though it brings with it headaches at the the guys have just been talking about it.

It's fantastic news because these guys I've got budgets that far exceed.

Players and that means that the creative ambitions at their shows have had no Limits the information ever talked about I mean and it goes drama producers talk about anything from say 10% to about 30% of the additional cost at the moment now cost of played into a little bit so you've got the the extra cost particular the last 18 months of getting people tested in the various different protocols to observe coupled with the scarcity of top level 10 to 30% but but it is it is a by-product of the excellence in the sector and it's a to medium-term headache.

It's the only thing produces want to talk to me about at the moment.

I don't know whether.

Just like to tell everybody how much a drama cost to make a high-end drama is anything between 1.5 million and 3 million an hour? What do you think Tony that's a pretty good per hour of tell yeah absolutely when was talking about this idea of britishness when we go to a British broadcaster any other terrestrials.

They will only give us 30 to 40% of the budget.

So then it's down on the individual producers to go out in the open market place to go to America to go to France to go to Spain and try and get partners on board for sometimes 60% of the budget so in one way we all want to be the very best of British but we have to partner with people outside Britain get those shows made and Chris I could just joined the throng in asking you non-stop about the streamers for people listening.

Just give us an idea of some of the Big Show's they've made in the UK recently.

Yet to come but it's going to amplify everything ^ 10 is when Amazon brings Lord Lord of the Rings to the UK but you're even things which don't necessarily feel that British work on have created out the States and Britain which shop in the West of England and was an absolute gangbuster success for Netflix lots of British Cruise in strictly speaking icon of an American production and production, but look these thing it it's incredibly common to have the co-production model that Sarah reference what I would say is because of the strength of British creativity British writing in particular.

I wouldn't want to un to make the hard work that produces have to do in terms of finding co-production partners, but that there are countless examples of that model working and British viewers.

Watching their PSB channels having access to a far more expensive drama doing a father expensive drama, then they could possibly enjoy if it was just the money coming from the BBC TV Channel 4 and then streaming Netflix or whoever takes the rest of the global rights around the world and that model has quickly become established and the my mind work strategy successfully and what's interesting about the titles that you've listed there some as we watch them clearly connected to where they've been made but others we might be hard pushed to know where they've been made and tell me if I could ask you about your new drama crime that set in Scotland to what degree did the location influence the nature of the story the way you made it the by-product.

What is an Irvine Welsh please so everything was really influenced by being from the writer of Trainspotting so it's it's about a Scottish as it possibly be really so I think we I think we used to location in order to the tone of it as well as literal physicality of it.

I think what's interesting about that is a point and just listening to all the stuff about britishness is I think production hubs are there quite clearly a good thing there's there's no doubt about that, but equally we've got we've got a look I think and and I think going to the region is going going to Scotland going to the nations when we went up there with very very clear that.

Orlebar cast and crew and one of the ways the week on Combat is the inflation was waving around people and people can you like seeing waves around and then many months it was was that does an entire constituency there with stories to tell that are not necessarily tapping into and and I think we need to understand original voice because stories come from constituencies and that's britishness and I can see and the others are going to want to jump in just before I do feel as we've been talking about Tony's new drama.

Let's just here a little bit of it.

No, my mind nobody presents is a monster of the art and under every bed.

I just little of the new drama series crime soufeel revenue.

I just wanted to come in.

It's really important because the heyday of the soaps.

That's exactly what they were all based across the country and bring it a different view and a different accents to the issues of the day.

Is a miss Norman in this debate all the time about the fact that you're deaf flicks on Amazon a challenging television and the challenging film about Lord of the Rings 2 cinematic cinematographic project.

It's just that can make you as long as the biggest as the actually wanted so we're going to take about soaps and British them reflecting the voices in the contains information in terms of budget the soaps are always against traditionally twenty-five 30% of the cost of drama, so it's connection between cost of production and quality and content and businesses is it doesn't we can come back from Great programmes about britishness grapes grapes grapes and everything but you don't have to enter that minefield or trying to compete with the Netflix

And I guess the question is Sarah dollars.

We listen to the point sumsa Phil Redmond do you believe that britishness needs to be protected that they need to be interventions in order to help British TV remain distinct completely agree with a kind of the government prescribing what stories we can and can't tell I mean the great joy of being with being British isn't it is free speech there in different viruses.

I mean you know that would rule out things like normal people which was the biggest set of lockdown.

We wouldn't have seen War and Peace on the BBC can 901 the programs.

We wouldn't have the government suggesting that shouldn't be made.

It's just saying it wants to make sure that the stories in the UK are told me and changing a little bit of a slippery slope to some sort of nationalistic entrapment because

You have to let the creative tell the stories they want to tell that's our job as producers and surely that imagination of storytelling isn't anywhere I need I'm in any spaces Curtis from from broadcast if you look at the performance of ITV recently doing very very well and it's last figures.

It would suggest that a commercial operator like ITV can make lots of programs many of them rooted in British stories and make a good profit given the current situation British programming is ensure healthy robust future for Public Service Broadcasting in the UK if it creates the you know the market circumstances Providence the psbs can make sure that their programs are easily found more more people watching through apple or Amazon or other platforms if it gives the BBC licence fee we're not naive.

You said but if it can avoid cutting legs off the BBC with Samsung a crippling licence fee settlement and if it can find outcome for Channel 4 that doesn't turn channel into just another broadcaster, which is the Threat the danger to be privatisation then it will have created the circumstances in which would have a healthy Public Service Broadcasting sector the next 1020 years and those psbs inevitably and and and will fully produced fantastic british-made content of precisely the kind that we've been talking about the last half quite a long this will have to see if the government manages to do that Phil Redmond and Tony would just briefly as we head towards the end of the program.

So first you think the government should intervene in some way to to protect or support britishness in TV

Removing the 21st century so we need to make sure that it takes programs for the British taxpayers who funded make it 11 on the phone and broadband bills and actually made Channel 4 into BBC and still set up the tires that advertising and something arises the BBC that is the way to protect the whole thing I certainly agree that the PSPs need protecting selfish and personally I wouldn't mind a little bit more being put into the Indies or maybe the more practical practical way of looking about is that I think the creative Communities may need a little bit more sustaining because the last 20-years where the ITV consolidating London and various other it's become very difficult by which you mean what I just understand what support that you you would like to see often well.

It's a fluent, Commerce

But if I'm going to be honest, but as I said stories come from constituency constituency and character is created via The Voice's so I think that the workforce agencies.

Do the work that somebody's agencies.

Do is is excellent perhaps they should be more on that note we will have to leave it.

Thank you very much indeed fascinating to talk to all four of you.

I'm afraid that's all we have time for today at 40 outcomes of the discussions will be clear to us in the programs that we watch in the coming years but sincere thanks to all of my dear Sarah Doyle chief executive of red production company we would chief executive of Buccaneer Media Sheffield Redmond creator of Grange Hill Hollyoaks and Brookside and Chris Curtis editor of broadcast don't forget you can catch.

Past editions of the media Show by the BBC Sounds app which you can download to your smartphone whichever type of smartphone you have and the media show will be back on Radio 4 at same time next week but for now.

Thank you very much indeed for listening and for me Ros Atkins and order the media show team goodbye.


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