I have much love for the BBC and will loudly and belligerently defend the licence fee against all the nay-sayers who seem to believe that if a multi-channel 24hr/365-day service isn’t absolutely dedicated to their interests then the whole corporation should be abolished. Personally I think the £140 is a pittance for the level of service they provide and the BBC is one of the last remaining areas of British society in which we can be truly proud and that commands huge respect across the world.
However they really do not do themselves any favours. Just a week after getting critical and commercial praise for its superb Richard II adaptation – which hugely increased the the interest in the whole cycle of their filmed versions of Shakespeare’s history plays – they have managed to unpick all of that good work with hugely incompetent scheduling made worse by a complete lack of communication to its audience that rivals banks and mobile phone customers in its disregard for its customers.
Now Wimbledon takes place every year and so it should perhaps have crossed the minds of schedulers that the finals may overrun. Perhaps if that is the case then contingency plans might have been put in place to manage the situation. Instead people tuning in to watch Henry IV part I – with A-grade stars Tom Hiddlestone, Simon Russell Beale and Jeremy Irons + a whole host more – were given no information as the Men’s Doubles came to an end. Not even ‘the scheduled programme has been delayed, more information to come’. Given we were on the verge of a first British success since 1936 I can’t really complain about sticking with the tennis.
But seriously continuing with the tennis on BBC2 for the Ladies Doubles – what is the point of the red button if not for putting minor sport onto that? And what did people tuning into the BBC’s flagship summer broadcasting get – about 40 minutes late we had John Inverdale haplessly stating that the production ‘may be on later, we’re not sure’ – well thanks John, that really cleared it up for us. Also why the hell was Casualty on BBC1? It may get higher audience ratings but surely it could get bumped for one week? One can only imagine what Lord Reith would have had to say about the way the Beeb have prioritised their scheduling.
So BBC – by some miracle you had turned Shakespeare into watercooler TV and within a week you have already managed to shaft your own success through the general incompetence, poor management and dire communication that you have become famed for. I am sure your heir-apparent Director-General, George Entwhistle, who was responsible for the Shakespeare cycle must be absolutely delighted with your handling of this one.
For those who want to catch-up with Henry IV part I – it will apparently air on BBC4 tonight at 21.00 (no word on whether it will also be on either BBC HD channels)
Much more on the BBC’s Shakespeare Unlocked Season.