BBC Reaffirms Commitment to Radio Drama

To follow up on our coverage of BBC announcing the end of the Friday play, today it was reported that the BBC has made a commitment to keeping radio drama free from cuts for the near future.

The Stage News quotes BBC head of radio drama Alison Hindell as saying:

We are still the biggest broadcaster of radio drama in the world by miles and make hundreds and hundreds of titles – a claim that Hollywood can’t make. We now have to say, let’s guard that stronghold. And part of my job is to protect that.

So, not as dire a prediction as some fans felt after the Friday Play disappeared, but still not quite the moment to break out the champagne.

Still, as Roger Gregg pointed out last we chatted, radio drama’s only sustainable way to survive (at least on broadcast radio) is to adapt to new listening habits and become accessible to the iPod generation.

One podcast at a time :)

  • Rosanna

    I agree totally.
    I was in a similar discussion recently and found myself saying the same thing as Roger Gregg (nice to be in such distinguished company).
    It seems they need to acknowledge one of the formats that is both reviving and giving a bigger, longer lifespan to the whole medium.
    Are they afraid of losing the reins?
    Can’t they create a subscription at a more economical rate than cd’s?

  • R Frank Wilson

    Yeah, Fred, but Alison Hindell’s remarks are disingenuous. This is the voice of a broadcasting monopoly – a bit like the sort of statements large private companies make to their shareholders – that is, ‘take it or leave it but there its is’. She is basically talking about the sort of rationalisation that has merged drama and documentary departments and which will, soon, end the Friday Play. (still going, by the way, for the moment) For all the talk about quality and engaging new audiences in dynamic ways, this is about reducing output and costs. And yes, Rosanna, maybe they are afraid of loosing the reins…
    Come discuss it at ‘Speak up for Radio Drama now!’ on facebook. ‘You know it makes sense’
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=370813630387&ref=mf
    Thanks for your support as always Fred.

  • Dan

    My favorite slots on BBC 4 are the Classic Serial and the Saturday Play. I do like BBC 4’s longer dramas, so I’ve felt let down in the past few months by the BBC stripping down their Classic Serials to mostly two-parters. Compared to the great, big series they used to do on 4, they are very dilute on character development, to the point of being unintentionally silly at times. On the other hand, I am glad they’ve brought back the occasional 90-minute feature drama on Saturday night. I am not from the UK, and I only listen on demand, but I need meat and potatoes in my radio drama, and I’m not at all interested in ‘drama blips.’ The BBC has given me hours and hours of longer radio drama. Lesser so in recent years, but BBC radio drama still seems to be chugging along quite well. If they develop this philosphoy where they must adapt War and Peace in two hours, I will feel like something has been lost that made the BBC great for decades.

  • Dan

    My favorite slots on BBC 4 are the Classic Serial and the Saturday Play. I do like BBC 4’s longer dramas, so I’ve felt let down in the past few months by the BBC stripping down their Classic Serials to mostly two-parters. Compared to the great, big series they used to do on 4, they are very dilute on character development, to the point of being unintentionally silly at times. On the other hand, I am glad they’ve brought back the occasional 90-minute feature drama on Saturday night. I am not from the UK, and I only listen on demand, but I need meat and potatoes in my radio drama, and I’m not at all interested in ‘drama blips.’ The BBC has given me hours and hours of longer radio drama. Lesser so in recent years, but BBC radio drama still seems to be chugging along quite well. If they develop this philosphoy where they must give you War and Peace in fifteen minutes, I will feel like something has been lost that made the BBC great for years.

  • http://www.finalrune.com Fred

    Thanks for the comments, all!

    @Rosanna – dunno, I think it’s a matter of needing to become a “multimedia” company where broadcast radio and TV all feed into online offerings that are easy to share and somehow monetize later down the road. I think US TV networks could learn a lot from BBC having both radio and TV versions of shows… let’s add audio drama podcasts, eh?

    @R Frank – thanks for the comment. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not priveleged to know the inner workings of the BBC so I admit to taking their statements at face value, which seem relatively upbeat. But yeah, I’m right with you – they should be focusing effort on adapting to listener habits rather than slashing programming because of a perception that people are listening less (simply because they are listening THAT WAY less).

    @Dan – Thanks for the listener perspective, Dan. I think this is maybe ALL media’s challenge, not just BBC. ADD is the norm, not the exception, so how do you offer “meat and potatoes” while still being accessible? Personally I look to the HBO model, where they have series that are really challenging and say something, but are also quite entertaining.

  • http://robertsliardon.info Roberts Liardon

    Took me time to read all the comments, but I really enjoyed the article.

  • http://laceysmall.co.cc/ Lacey Small

    Yeah, Fred, but Alison Hindell’s remarks are disingenuous. This is the voice of a broadcasting monopoly – a bit like the sort of statements large private companies make to their shareholders – that is, ‘take it or leave it but there its is’. She is basically talking about the sort of rationalisation that has merged drama and documentary departments and which will, soon, end the Friday Play. (still going, by the way, for the moment) For all the talk about quality and engaging new audiences in dynamic ways, this is about reducing output and costs. And yes, Rosanna, maybe they are afraid of loosing the reins… Come discuss it at ‘Speak up for Radio Drama now!’ on facebook. ‘You know it makes sense’ http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=370813630387&ref=mf Thanks for your support as always Fred.