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Grandstand, ToTP, and then...

Peter Rippon | 16:03 UK time, Tuesday, 4 July 2006

First it was Grandstand, then Top of the Pops: the seemingly unstoppable demise of some of the BBC's oldest and most established brands got us wondering in the PM programme office what, or who, is likely to be next?

The PM programme logoNaked self-interest soon focused the discussion on the question "will it be us?"

Like the other brands, we've been around a long time - 36 years.

We are also very Old School in how we broadcast. We go on air when we want, not when the listener wants.

We have a healthy share of the UK radio audience at the moment, but on broadband your choice of station is global. And, as Mark Thompson pointed out to the Radio Academy, listeners will soon be creating their own schedules on MyBBCRadio.

It's all food for thought and part of the intense Creative Future debate we are having. Having said all that, we do still have some things going for us. We still manage to produce what my boss would call "great content". We have a healthy weekly reach of three and half million listeners and, after the Today Programme, we remain comfortably the most listened to news show on radio.

So I reckon there is life left in us yet. Which brings us back to the original question... if not us, who? Any suggestions?


  • 1.
  • At 05:13 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • John Russell wrote:

Lest we forget: the not-quite-so-venerable-but-none-the-less-loved-for-all-that Home Truths on Radio 4 breathed its last only last week. And let's not even get into the whole Radio 4 morning medley again...

  • 2.
  • At 05:21 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • jenny wrote:

Question Time…. is very out dated and increasingly toothless.

  • 3.
  • At 05:44 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Ed wrote:

Here comes the "bash your most hated BBC program" and/or "bash the BBC generally" ;)

I enjoy PM myself, so keep up the good work!

  • 4.
  • At 06:06 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Mark wrote:

BBC has enjoyed a priveleged position being the sole source of radio and television in the UK for the longest time and then one with little real competition and enjoying very heavily involuntary subsidization by the public. Before you pat yourselves on the back too hard, try competing in a free market economy where countless commercial interests vie for audience share as in the United States and see how well you fare. Then you would find out if people actually liked you or had just put up with you because they had little other choice. Your closest comparisons would likely be NPR and PBS.

  • 5.
  • At 08:30 PM on 04 Jul 2006,
  • Sean Williams wrote:

PM does a marvellous job, not least because it doesn't take itself too seriously.
Ref. the comment from Mark above, I suspect one of the reasons there aren't many programmes on British radio to compete with PM is because we Brits know quality when we see/hear it and potential competitors realise they can't better it.
Finally - please Peter, refer to PM as a programme; it's not a 'show'. Leave that to those in the cheaper seats!

I think Jenny (above) might be right about 'Question Time', although I have no idea whether it's viewing figures would warrant an overhaul or replacement.
I guess one of the other sacred cows would be 'Blue Peter', but I'm not sure if that's still going.
I don't think the Beeb needs to change for change's sake. One could argue that a lot of the modern things (blogs like this included) are the least relevant to the TV licence payer.
And BBC3 is a shambles. One hit (Little Britain) does not make for a channel worth watching, as the public is wise enough to know that the good stuff will cross over to One or Two eventually.

To respond to the last comment... that's why I don't frequent the Radio 4 Message Boards. I enjoyed BBC Three News before it was cancelled, but seeing it constantly reffered to as "news for idiots" became a little tiring.

Many programmes from BBC Three have made it to BBC Two - Man Stroke Woman, and first airings of Two Pints. I'm confident that Drop Dead Gorgeous will be making it to BBC One this year - the ratings were excellent and everyone wants another series after the four episodes.

I could say that BBC Four is boring because it doesn't interest me. How many programmes has it produced with viewers on the scale of Little Britain? But I won't say that, because I recognise the programmes are good for the target audience, and especially enjoyed the four part series on time among others.

I'm sure for everyone in the UK there is a part of the corporation that is a "shambles".

To come back on topic, I wonder whether anything else needs "the chop". Surely the criteria for whether a programme has life in it is how relevant it is, how useful the content is and whether it has viewers. Whether it was put on air last year, or 30 years ago, if it fails the challenges it faces then it needs a rethink, or maybe dropping from the schedule.

As Peter highlights, 36 years old, a fixture in the schedule and three and a half million listeners. Clearly there's something in it that people enjoy.

  • 8.
  • At 11:07 AM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • Stephen Glynn wrote:

...what, or who, is likely to be next?

Has You and Yours been around long enough to count as 'an established brand'?

  • 9.
  • At 01:58 PM on 05 Jul 2006,
  • James T wrote:

Oh please yes - please kill You and Yours. The sanctimonious, preaching and unrelentingly Grauniad/Leftish tone is toe-curling. While we're at it, Quote Unquote resembles the walking dead - will it never die?

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