Industry big guns are 'backing the BBC'

Peter Kosminsky and Claire Foy on set of Wolf Hall Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky supports the Broadcast campaign

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Oscar-winning directors, celebrated documentary-makers and hit drama writers are among the supporters of a 'Back the BBC' campaign, launched by Broadcast magazine.

They join actors, editors and designers - as well as members of the audience - in signing a statement of support for a licence fee set at a level that allows the BBC to remain the 'cornerstone' of the UK creative industries.

The campaign, which has been gathering pace, will be taken to Westminster next Wednesday. Politicians are to be lobbied and a public meeting staged, with shadow culture secretary Chris Bryant, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and PACT chair Laura Mansfield among the speakers.

It comes at a time when the long-term future of the licence fee is in doubt, while fears the fee may be frozen as part of charter renewal has led to BBC warnings of service cuts. The appointment of John Whittingdale - a critic of the licence fee - to culture minister has done little to allay concerns.

The threat has prompted industry big guns to join the Broadcast battle, with Theory of Everything director James Marsh and The King's Speech's Tom Harper leading a list of Hollywood directors who have signed up.

'Cherish and celebrate'

David Yates, director of four of the Harry Potter movies, said we should 'cherish and celebrate' all that the BBC represents.

Television documentary-makers, such as Molly Dineen, Roger Graef and Michael Apted, are also signatories, together with Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky.

'The idea that we would do anything to damage or reimagine the BBC - one of the most trusted brands on the planet - is inconceivable,' argued Kosminsky.

Happy Valley writer Sally Wainwright, meanwhile, believed it would be a 'tragedy' if the BBC had to rely on commercial funding. 'It would strip away its unique ability to programme independently,' she warned.

Other writers, including Andrew Davies (upcoming War and Peace) and Chris Chibnall (Broadchurch), are also up for the fight.

'How important is the BBC?' asked Chibnall. 'It's everything. It's the creative soul of Britain. It's more loved than politicians, the press or its rivals. Which is why all of them attack it. And why we must fight now, to keep it shining for future generations.'

'Barking mad'
Mary Beard Mary Beard says it would be 'barking mad' to lose a well-funded BBC

Independent production companies and creative organisations, such as the Writers' Guild of Great Britain and Directors UK, are supporting the Broadcast pledge.

Directors UK chief executive Andrew Chowns said the BBC 'should be celebrated as a place that inspires our brightest television talent and empowers them to achieve their best work'.

MD of Red Planet Pictures Tony Jordan, who got his break as an EastEnders writer, argued that the charter renewal debate should be about 'how we support [the BBC] more than we are, not whether it is still viable or not'.

And Pat Younge, former BBC chief creative officer, who is now MD of Sugar Films, added: 'As someone who's lived abroad you come to realise the vital role the BBC plays in keeping the industry and aiming high... You will certainly miss it if it's gone, and by then it will be too late.'

Mary Beard, academic and BBC presenter, gets straight to the point. 'Losing a well-funded BBC would be barking mad.'

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