arts and archive

TV The proposed transformation of BBC Four's remit, as reported at The Guardian isn't unexpected (not least because the paper ran the similar article in June).

Of all the services, it is the most obvious to cut or at least change, especially since its former controller Janice Hallow moved to BBC Two and set about filling the nine o'clock slot with programmes and drama which wouldn't previously have looked out of place on her former channel.

When she joined BBC Four originally she set about turning it into the channel she thought BBC Two should be and not she's moved the real BBC Two and is doing it all over again.  The BBC simply can't sustain two television channels doing roughly the same thing.

That includes the drama and comedy, which would be a better fit and indeed better resourced on BBC Two.  And seen by a larger audience.  The Shadow Line felt like a BBC Four show and there it was on BBC Two.  The Hour too.

The proposed new remit, "arts and archive", isn't new.  It's a return to what the channel was originally like ten years ago.  Indeed, looking further back, it's closer in scope to BBC Knowledge in its twilight months.  I preferred it back then, however more elitist it was.  A place to think.

For some of us, this need not be a bad thing.  Just a glance at the BBC Archive website reveals some of the treasures the corporation have in its vaults and a return to employing BBC Four as a window on this material has to be a good thing, especially since, unlike the various UKtv derivations, they'll be allowed to play unedited and without adverts.

The BBC has decades and decades of quality television which isn't cost effective to release on dvd but deserves to be seen again.  Ways of Seeing's due for another repeat, I'm sure.

The Daily Mail et al will no doubt grumble about "all the repeats" and the continued existence of the sometimes brilliant BBC Three (which is now considered the access drug for teenagers into becoming hooked on the corporation).

Behaving rather like a revival media organisation they are, time and again they've wilfully ignored the incongruity that you can't have wall to wall new programming without the money to pay for it and will still be writing spiteful columns despite the fact that the BBC are making the most of the licence fee by employing programming already made instead of producing redundant duplicate material about the very same subjects at great expense featuring inferior presenters.

Besides, what's the point of having eighty-five thousand shelves worth of stuff if we can't see any of it.  Just so long as they keep Only Connect and The Killing on.  And whatever Charlie Brooker's doing.

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