TV - The Great British Beeb Off


Steve Taylor-Bryant avoids a soggy bottom and decides we can't have our cake and eat it with the currant BBC licence fee...

Ooh, television just got all political and topical all of sudden. We looked around the /G-f offices for our political commentator, realised we didn't have one and left me to talk about the hottest topic for a while. After researching Brexit for hours and thinking this article might land me a plum role alongside Jon Snow, I get information that the topic is Bake Off.

Now I've never watched Bake Off. Honestly, I have nothing against cakes. If you could see my stomach you'd know this and who doesn't like to dip a Bakewell Slice in a glass of milk? I do, however, appreciate that millions of people love the show and for some families it's the staple food ... I mean viewing of their week. And now it's not on the BBC any more.

Apparently, I wasn't interested enough to do much more research, the production company wanted more money and the BBC dragged their heels during negotiations. This happens in business all the time, it happens all the time in television too. Independent production companies make a product, be it a detective show, a superhero thing, a karaoke contest, or a show about cakes. They put the work in then they go to find a platform. Sometimes it's to the highest bidder, sometimes it's dependent on little or no adverts. Either way, the product remains the property of the company and gawd bless 'em guv'nor if they can get a better deal elsewhere. My problem here is the BBC who, for either bad management reasons or government pressure reasons, just can't seem to hold on to a show anymore.

We pay a pittance in license fee in the grand scheme of what the corporation costs but, to a family man with four kids like me, who is writing this article for no payment and has to get up in 5 hours to gut fish, it's not a pittance. In fact £145 is a small fortune to me. I pay it without complaining every year due, mainly, to habit I think as, whilst writing this article I realised I haven't watched BBC television since February, some 6 months and £72.50 ago. I haven't listened to BBC radio since Simon Mayo was on at lunchtime, Steve Wright had a show in the afternoon and no DJ's had been arrested for child crimes. I know some families rely on the BBC for their entertainment, and that's fine too, but now I'm paying for my neighbour to watch a dance off between a retired cricketer and old news reader whilst I'm over here with a DVD collection I've paid good money for, Netflix which I also pay good money for, and Amazon, again good money blah blah. So why, in this world of choice am I even contemplating paying my license fee again?

If I watch a BBC show on my digital providers I'm paying twice. I have recently left Sky as my life needs less Murdoch and biased news (another reason I don't watch the Beeb) and my main platform is now BTTV. I don't have a full package of channels and so if I press the button for ESPN HD for example I get a block screen explaining I haven't paid for this channel and should I wish to view it I must change my subscription for that month. Fair enough. I'll watch BT Sport 2 instead, no big deal. Should ESPN ever get something I can't live without (and if you think you can't live without a TV show you aren't actually living are you?) then I'll pay the extra £7.

Why can't the BBC be the same? "Steve! You've pressed BBC2!!!!! You don't own this you cretin. Get yer dosh out or you can say goodbye to that butterfly documentary!" Fine, I'll pay £7 (honestly £7 seems to be the average you pay for any TV provider per month for some reason) watch my Red Admiral obsessed presenter and maybe get a follow up programme on piles cures. If I don't, then oh well, never mind, next month the channel gets blocked again. This seems fair. This seems logical. Yes traditionalists free TV bollocks blah blah blurgh but that was 70 years ago. Programming wouldn't suffer. Eastenders would take on sponsorship from a dish soap (soap? Get it? Don't know why I bother) and Doctor Who pretty much gets financed by the Yanks now anyway. The companies involved get their buck, the Beeb get probably the same amount of investment they get now anyway, programming becomes better due to competition and Radio 4 is still better than Radio 1.

Honestly, you folks make shit so complicated! I just solved TV and I've been drinking...