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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Damn You, BBC. Damn You.

Wednesday night is, of course, Arrested Development night. I was, as so often, grateful I have digital, since I noticed that the show does not appear on BBC2's schedule next week. So I was thankful that BBC4 allowed me to see the next episode.

It was only once the episode ended that I started to get annoyed. The nice BBC continuity lady stated "and that was the last in the present series of Arrested Development".

Well, I pretty much immediately suspected that was a lie. As with any US network show, AD has 22 episodes in a season. Whilst my grip on time is occasionally lacking, I knew the show hadn't been on for 22 weeks.

I turned to my good ol'friend the Internet and discovered that I was right. The BBC have decided that the series ends at Episode 13.

I hate it when they pull crap like this. For a start, I'm just plain annoyed that they're not showing the whole series (no mention was made of it returning in the New Year.) But I think I'm even more annoyed by the fact they're lying about it. They must realise that the show is somewhat cultish, and that geeky fans of it such as myself would know how many episodes are in a series, and would promptly check.

It's exactly this sort of thing which makes me increasingly resent paying the licence fee. Since they lost the rights to 24, Arrested Development is the only show that I've watched on the BBC. So, essentially, I've paid 120 quid to see this show. I think the least they could do is let me watch the whole damn series.

And the daft thing is that you can buy the entire series, complete with copious extras, for a mere £17.99 on the mighty PlayUSA.com.

So, honestly, can someone tell me why I should bother with the bloody BBC?


  • At 3:16 PM, Blogger Fizzwhizz said…

    Well, the licence fee doesn't only pay for BBC1 and BBC2. It also pays for a lot of other TV and radio channels, mainly for minority interest groups who would otherwise be unrepresented.
    And it also funds useful community schemes and training programmes that are organised by the BBC - when I was a teenager, for example, I was involved in my local radio station's youth training programme, which gave me a good grounding in journalism and helped me decide that I wanted to do it for a living. Without that experience I wouldn't be here now. And I wouldn't have been able to do it at the local ad-funded station because all they did was play pop records and adverts.
    The licence fee also funds the BBC internet service, which is a very useful resource and something like Europe's most-visited website, and the World Service which, if you've ever been away from Britain for any length of time, you would have found invaluable.
    The licence fee is basically a tax by another name, but it allows us to have an advertiser-free, public broadcasting service with consistently impartial journalism that is some of the best, if not the best, in the world.
    It does seem a bit odd that they would only show half a series, though. I'd imagine they've split the 22 episodes up into two BBC-length serieses to be shown separately? I can't imagine that they only bought 13 of the 22.

  • At 11:37 AM, Blogger McReadie said…

    Ah, Fizzwhizz, you are of course the voice of reason. I have to admit that I did (eventually) get a reply from the BBC informing me that they will be showing the rest of the series in the New Year. They bloody better.

    I appreciate all the points you made in the defence of the BBC. I know it's a valuable asset, but on the other hand I have to admit that I have been increasingly disappointed by it as time has worn on.

    As a kid, when I was filled with journalistic dreams, I had an enormous amount of respect for the corporation, and did regard it as the gold standard. I find it tough to now, and only in part at my bitterness at their poor treatment of me when I've applied for jobs there :) (I underwent a particularly unpleasant interview...)

    What I'm finding is that their standards just seem to have slipped. I'm sickened by the number of grammatical, spelling, and sometimes factual errors that I find on BBC News Online, for example. And if you ever check out their local BBC pages (specifically Berkshire)... I admit I haven't checked recently, but the times I have checked the writing there has been of a truly dreadful standard. The point is that I grew up expecting the BBC to value language. They don't seem to anymore.

    I'm not against the concept of a public service broadcaster - quite the opposite in fact. But I do find myself increasingly resenting the licence fee. I think it's because of the need to pay the fee in order to own a TV. If I had to pay in order to watch the BBC, I'd feel it was different. I know that this is a horrible argument - I detest parents who moan about having to pay taxes to fund state schools because they send their kids to public schools and so feel they shouldn't pay... I guess I feel that the difference is that those parents have been offered an alternative to private education. I have no alternative - if I want a TV, I have to pay the licence fee.

    Ah, this really isn't very coherent, but I think I do have a good argument somewhere :)

  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Fizzwhizz said…

    I totally agree with you about the thing of having to have a "licence" for a TV. It pisses me right off (and yes, I do know there are more important things to get exercised about) that they don't just admit that it's a tax, and add it on to income tax or something...I mean, who do they really think they're kidding? In 1960, yeah OK, it was maybe kind of unusual to have a TV set and so you could justify suggesting that you'd need a licence for it, but really, these days a TV is hardly an unusual item is it, so why make such a song and dance about it? Stick a couple of pence on income tax and scrap the licence, it would bring in a load more money for the Beeb and the rest of the country's woefully underfunded public services. Thus possibly allowing the BBC to employ more, better people instead of relying so heavily on volunteers, as it does particularly in local radio.
    And for God's sake, why did they decimate the World Service but keep Radio 3, which no one listens to and in any case has been entirely usurped by Classic FM? Even my dad, the last remaining person in the country who actually wants to hear documentaries about Sibelius while he's doing the washing up, listens to Classic FM now. I mean, I know it would have been kind of embarrassing to have that numerical gap between Radio 2 and Radio 4, but we'd survive. Actually, they could fill it with a station playing back-to-back minimalist ambient techno.


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