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BBC America - a new approach


Tony Watkins
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I heard recently that BBC America is to drop some of the old British TV material that is still very popular over there (apparently) in favour of more current material. So Benny Hill is to go - and about time I would think! He's not been on British screens for some time - very much the product of an earlier age! Also to go are The Avengers, Keeping Up Appearances, The Saint, 'Allo 'Allo and Are You Being Served?. They too are products of an earlier time - and this is the problem. BBC America wants the impression of Britain it presents to be much more up-to-date. David Croft (writer of Dad's Army, Are You Being Served? 'Allo 'Allo) said 'As for Benny Hill not reflecting modern Britain that is just rubbish. It never reflected anything. It is just a funny show. This is a case of taking these things far to too seriously.'

Instead you'll get Footballers' Wives (aagh!), Hollyoaks (very interesting teen soap - worth a look; interestingly, it's not BBC in the UK), Hotel Babylon (glitzy but rubbish) and Torchwood (the Doctor Who spin-off).

I'm not really sure this adds up to significant progress. Some bad old shows are being replaced with bad new ones (some of which are very similar to what's being made in the USA anyway so little British distinctiveness) and some good old shows (As Time Goes By, for example - brilliant writing and wonderful performances from Judy Dench and Geoffrey Palmer) are being replaced with good-ish new ones (Torchwood improves during the series; hopefully series 2 will be better - see the Torchwood thread.

I'd be interested to hear how you folks Stateside react to the changes - if you even watch BBC America, of course!

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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I got hooked on Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus series ever since watching Black Book on BBC America. I wouldn't mind it if they included more of those episodes.

The others I'm not that into. My BBCA programming usually shows either Benny Hill/i] or Monty Python, which I quickly get tired of. As Time Goes By is a favorite, but as Ellen says, it's shown on PBS all the time. Plus, I've been thinking of buying some of the DVDs anyway. My dad likes the show The Last of the Summer Wine. I could never get into it.

Subtlety is underrated
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Many of the sitcoms are on PBS stations all the time, and have been for a few decades now. I'm ot sure why Are You Being Served? is so popular, but it's a perennial.

I enjoyed it as a kid. Seeing it as an adult I was shocked at the level and nature of the innuendo. It's ghastly!

Incidentally, John Inman died quite recently.

My dad likes the show The Last of the Summer Wine. I could never get into it.

I loved the first couple of series but got fed up with it and haven't watched it for years. It seemed to become increasingly silly and unrealistic rather than a wry look at three delightful and plausible eccentrics.

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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We recently switched from cable to satellite service which includes BBCA. Re-visiting The Avengers has been amusing, but I have no interest in Footballers Wives or Robin Hood (which is being very heavily promoted). Tried Hex out of curiosity, because it had been mentioned among British Buffy fans, but it was just awful in too many ways to describe. It looks as if Life on Mars was on the schedule at some point, so maybe they'll eventually bring over season 2--I wouldn't mind.

I just can't work up much enthusiasm for Dr. Who--sorry. I have tried. Like the new editions better than the older ones, though. What's Torchwood about?

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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We recently switched from cable to satellite service which includes BBCA. Re-visiting The Avengers has been amusing, but I have no interest in Footballers Wives or Robin Hood (which is being very heavily promoted). Tried Hex out of curiosity, because it had been mentioned among British Buffy fans, but it was just awful in too many ways to describe. It looks as if Life on Mars was on the schedule at some point, so maybe they'll eventually bring over season 2--I wouldn't mind.

I just can't work up much enthusiasm for Dr. Who--sorry. I have tried. Like the new editions better than the older ones, though. What's Torchwood about?

Life on Mars was very highly praised over here. Season 2 has juts finished, but I never got chance to get into series 1 so I've seen none of it. One of my colleagues rates it as the best writing on TV (with the possible exception of West Wing).

Doctor who raises some fantastic issues these days. I recommend it heartily! Torchwood is a spin-off based around a character who was in several episodes if the 2005 series of Doctor Who. It's a small team of alien activity investigators based in Cardiff (which, for reasons I'm not going to bother explaining is a hotspot for such activity). More explanation in the Torchwood thread (which seems to be a personal thread juts for me because nobody else here has seen it!).

Focus: The Art and Soul of Cinema now published - www.damaris.org/focus

Damaris: www.damaris.org CultureWatch: www.culturewatch.org Personal site: www.tonywatkins.co.uk

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