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Plans for more distinctly ‘British’ TV could threaten the industry’s potential for diverse brilliance

4 1 0
22.09.2021

What makes a TV show British? Former media minister John Whittingdale had some ideas when he recently announced government plans to require UK public service broadcasters to produce “distinctly British” programmes. Speaking at the Royal Television Society convention in Cambridge he noted:

Britishness is, of course, a nebulous concept. It means different things to each and every one of us in this room. And yet we all know it when we see it on our screens. The sort of things we’ve all grown up with. Only Fools and Horses, Dad’s Army, Carry On. More recently, The Great British Bake Off and Line of Duty.

While such shows undoubtedly have an enduring appeal, Whittingdale’s announcement, whether intentionally or not, situated the government’s vision for entertainment firmly within the current culture wars. His assumption of a common “we” represented by and enjoying these shows is, arguably, where the problem begins.

The programmes that Whittingdale references speak for a Britain that is distinctly white, male, able-bodied and English. If, as Whittingdale insisted in his speech, “our national identity relies on the culture industries”, it is important to see why such attempts to define and control the UK’s identity are sinister and to know who is........

© The Conversation


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