Recently, The Great British Bake-off returned to our a screens. For many, it represents the entire reason to survive until Wednesday, and for others such as me, it represents a puzzling hour spent wondering why watching people bake things is considered legitimate entertainment. A few weeks into the show’s new series, it was announced that- despite it being one of the British television’s most watched projects- the BBC were not continuing with the show. Instead it was passing on to Channel Four, who had outbid their rivals in the BBC and had managed to tie down eternal Scouser Paul Hollywood- who hilariously was linked with Top Gear after showing his petrol-head sensibilities- into a four year contract. You’d have thought you could expect a bit of loyalty to the channel from a man who cheated on his wife…oh, wait.
Before that, though, came a letter from the show’s presenters and a social media message where they announced that they would be unable to continue working on TGBBO. Yes, that’s right- Mel and Sue, the reason many of us tuned in for the show, were ending their love affair with the show at the same time it was moving to another channel. Whether this is because they are contracted to the BBC, simply want another challenge, or dislike the channel’s inability to keep their best shows is unknown. All that can be said for certain is that the show will be a little more flat without all that talk about soggy bottoms. Mary Berry, too, an Everton fan and so surely not a bad person, has announced that she will be remaining with the BBC. Without them, her television career would never have taken off in the way it did, back when she was just a youngster all those centuries ago. Luckily, until this series ends, it will still be on the BBC- and Candice, who I am absolutely enamoured with for no discernible reason, is still in. I think the main reason I love her is due to her ability to pull a variety of different faces, all of which portray the same emotion: worry.
With BBC3 moving from being a television to an online channel, questions are being asked as to whether the BBC’S budget cuts are actually destroying it as opposed to saving it. By spending less, they are increasingly proving to be unable to keep some of their marquee shows. The BBC’s cuts are evident all across the board. When Robot Wars returned, thousands of people got excited, but it was later revealed that only six episodes were being aired. This is in stark contrast to the later series of the show that ran for 18 episodes or sometimes longer. What it shows is that either the BBC don’t have the money to push out a new show in the same way as they used to, or that they less and less faith in established brands and cannot afford to take any risks on a flop. Ripper Street, a show that featured lots of unshaven men talking in grumbling voices whilst solving crimes in Victorian England, was another hugely popular title synonymous with the BBC. However, after just two seasons, the BBC lost the rights to the show and it moved to Amazon Prime. Interestingly, Amazon Prime clearly took pity on the BBC, and they later sold the series to the channel- although likely for a higher price than the BBC would have had to pay in the first place. Couple that with the loss of Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May (through no fault of their own but through the actions of Clarkson’s fist and a producer’s face), and the BBC are beginning to lose a lot of titles that have been part of their roster for decades. Okay, so Top Gear returned, but it gained a much smaller audience than it had in its incarnation before, and after just one series it lost Chris Evans as its presenter due to the fact that literally everyone involved in the show seemed to dislike him. It certainly wasn’t the monumental success that the BBC it would be. Meanwhile, the three amigos from the show have also gone on to Amazon Prime with their own motoring show, which is now a direct rival to the one show they were originally a part of.
There are a few shows that will probably save the BBC, though. Although they lost The Voice– another lucrative show for them- they have managed to keep hold of Strictly Come Dancing. That show is still the most watched one on a Saturday night, bar pretty much nothing, and this latest series looks to be no different. For me, it has a lot of appeal- it is simple entertainment and it features an awful lot of very, very athletic women with incredibly lovely bodies. I’ll even forgive them for the lack of Aliona Vilani, who was far and away my favourite. It also features a weekly cameo appearance from Claudia Winkelman’s fringe and the sad void where Tess Daley’s personality should be. Should they lose this last pillar of their marquee, it will collapse, and they’ll have lost the last really popular title they have left. Meanwhile, ITV manage to close the gap by stealing American Dad and Family Guy from BB3, and Channel Four now have Bake Off. Even Amazon Prime, a pay-per-view channel, has stolen their thunder. The BBC are falling behind, and perhaps it is time they transformed their format a little.
In years to come, I can see shows being able on a PPV sort of deal. You pay for the show, download it, watch it, and then pay for the next episode. Perhaps you can pay up front for the whole series. That does away with adverts and, most tellingly, it takes away the need to charge people for the right to legally own a TV just so you can bring them television shows that they may not even want to watch in the first place. Either that, or start playing adverts. Everything else clearly isn’t working.
Until then, give me more of Candice and the dancing girls: I’m totally okay with that.