Doctor Who and It’s A Sin writer Russell T Davies says the BBC is ‘doomed’ and ‘heading for oblivion’ amid threats to funding and competition from streaming giants
- Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies says he has ‘given up’ fighting for the BBC
- He said that despite a ‘golden age of drama’ broadcaster heading for extinction
- Davies warned against government trying to reform licence fee funding model
Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies says he has ‘given up’ fighting for the BBC and believes the broadcaster is ‘doomed’ if the government continues to slash funding.
Davies, 57, has continually warned of the dangers facing the broadcaster if the government try to reform the licence fee funding model into an ‘opt-in’ service like Netflix, he told That Gaby Roslin Podcast.
The writer behind hits such as Doctor Who, Queer As Folk and It’s A Sin said that drama is enjoying a golden age, but suggested that UK broadcasters, under threat from US streaming giants, are in a perilous position.
Davies made the comment when presenter Gaby Roslin asked him how he felt about being credited with ‘saving’ television ‘from extinction’, thanks to the success of his TV shows.
Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies, 57, (pictured) has continually warned of the dangers facing the broadcaster if the government try to reform the licence fee funding model
‘Is it heading that way (to extinction)?’ Roslin asked.
The screenwriter answered: ‘I think the BBC is, right now in front of us, I don’t think it (TV) is.
‘We’re in a golden age for drama, the amount of author-owned, personal drama pieces that are being broadcast is 10 times the number than in the Sixties.’
He said: ‘People say Play For Today was the height of television. We’re getting series like that every week now, not quite every week. But it’s in a glorious state.’
But the former Doctor Who writer added: ‘The state of the broadcasters is not so magnificent… I’ve given up fighting (for it).’
The writer behind hits such as Doctor Who, Queer As Folk and It’s A Sin (pictured) said that drama is enjoying a golden age
Davies said that his warnings that the ‘BBC is doomed’ had gone unheeded for ‘so long that now I’m sitting back thinking, ‘I’ll be 60 soon, I had the best of it, well done, bye bye’.’
The Conservative government has repeatedly clashed with the BBC in recent times, most notably over the issue of the TV licence.
The corporation continues to face scrutiny over free TV licences for the over-75s – after introducing a fee for the demographic for the first time in 20 years – and competition from streaming services such as Netflix.
Tim Davie, director general of the BBC
The BBC TV licence will increase by £1.50, taking it from £157.50 a year to £159 from April 1, it was announced last week.
The fee is set by the Government, which announced in 2016 that it would rise in line with inflation for five years from April 2017.
The new cost equates to 43p per day, according to the broadcaster.
Those buying or renewing a licence after April 1 2021 will pay the new fee, while those already buying a licence on an instalment scheme which started before that date, such as via a monthly direct debit or weekly cash payments, will continue to make payments totalling £157.50 until their licence comes up for renewal.
The cost of an annual black and white licence will rise from £53.00 to £53.50.
The licence fee model has come under fire recently after the abolition of free TV licences for all over-75s.
Up to 750,000 pensioners are refusing to pay for a TV licence in protest after the free licences scheme was scrapped last year.
The protesters, who make up 14 per cent of the UK’s population of their age range, have ignored the flurry of reminders they have been given and are holding strong.
The BBC is now facing a £117million funding shortfall unless the over-75s fork over the £157.50 fee.
Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, previously dismissed claims the BBC could use a subscription service funding model, suggesting the BBC would cost £400-a-year if it operated like Netflix.
He said that a bundle of subscriptions offering comparable ‘high-quality’ and ‘advertising-free’ services from the BBC across ‘video, audio and news’ would be far more than the £157.50 licence fee.
Tim Davie, director general of the BBC, previously dismissed claims it could use a subscription service funding model, suggesting BBC would cost £400-a-year if it operated like Netflix.
On another topic during the podcast, Russell T Davies said he welcomed ‘the fact the job of a writer’ is more ‘visible now’.
‘You can sit at home and think, ‘I’ll be like Sally Wainwright, Paul Abbott and Michaela Coel’,’ he said.
‘To be seen is a great thing, it encourages children growing up to do the same thing.’
Davies’ BBC credits also include A Very English Scandal, and Years And Years.
It’s A Sin, his most recent drama, on Channel 4, explores the HIV/Aids crisis in the 1980s.
Davies said: ‘There has been this great release of memories and joy. It’s been bottled up because the deaths were so horrible.’
And he added: ‘It’s a cruel illness, opportunistic and vile. Sometimes the deaths were so awful that a silence settled over us.’
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