When I heard the news that BBC Three was going to move from broadcast to online only, I was shocked. And I wasn’t the only one. A murmur of ‘where can I watch Don’t Tell The Bride?’ and ‘what will happen to Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents now?’ went around the office. The channel has so much going for it, with recent commissions including Billie JD Porter’s ‘Secrets of South America’ and the strangely captivating ‘Hair’, that to terminate the television broadcast of the channel in 2015 seems premature.
Since 2003 BBC Three has unashamedly catered for the tastes of the mainstream younger generation, pulling in solid viewing figures and giving a platform to rising stars. The channel has excelled in raising the profile of up and coming comedians including Jack Whitehall (Bad Education), Matthew Horne & James Corden (Gavin and Stacey), David Walliams & Matt Lucas (Little Britain) and Noel Fielding (Mighty Boosh). I think it’s brilliant that in 2008, to nurture UK talent, BBC Three set up the ‘Fresh’ scheme. Directors and actors could submit their work, with controversial programmes such as ‘My Brother the Islamist’ going on to air on the channel.
Additionally, much as BBC Three has a reputation for providing lighthearted entertainment, arguably one of the best achievements for the channel was to commission the harrowing docu-series ‘Our War’. The series followed soldiers recently deployed in Afghanistan and tracked their every move via headcam, providing a soldier’s eye view of the conflict. From the very start ‘Our War’ was no-holds-barred television, illustrated no more clearly than in episode one, when the tragic death of Pte Chris Gray, who was killed by enemy fire, was caught on camera. As Commissioning Editor of The Daily Telegraph Chris Harvey put it ‘conflict entered our living rooms in the most direct and visceral way’. The series demonstrated BBC Three’s ingenious way of providing content in a style that doesn’t over complicate or patronise viewers.
I feel that by choosing to sacrifice the channel in the wake of budget cuts, the BBC risk alienating a generation of viewers. Recent reports suggest that the money saved by axing BBC Three will go towards funding more children’s TV, which to me is an area of broadcasting already saturated with content. It also holds no appeal for BBC Three’s target audience of 16 – 34 year olds, who’ve previously benefited from the diverse programming on the channel.
In order to ensure that the UK keeps producing exciting, acclaimed programming, we really do need BBC Three. So that’s why I’m joining the likes of Rick Edwards, Russell Kane and Greg James to #SaveBBC3 and sign the petition: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/to-the-bbc-trust-savebbc3