30 March 2010
The decision by ITV to drop the highly popular programme The Bill has been described by BECTU as ‘short sighted and negative’.
An enormous asset to the industry, possibly unique outside of the BBC, will be lost as a result of ITV’s blinkered approach
The decision was reportedly finalised last week as 4.5million viewers watched the latest instalment; respectable viewing figures, said BECTU, despite the way in which the programme has been moved around the schedule and major changes to its format.
Commenting on the news, supervisory official, Tom Bell, said:
“ITV says that the decision will not affect its overall drama output but, while BECTU welcomes the broadcaster’s intention to develop new short run shows, this should be in addition to, and not at the expense of, successful shows such as The Bill.”
The union fears that the actual outcome of the decision will be the erosion of good drama, with more emphasis on sport and reality shows.
“It appears that ITV has not considered the dire effect that the closure, or massive reduction of the Merton base where The Bill is made, will have on the wider television industry.”
Tom Bell continued. “Over many years the Merton Base and The Bill have provided wonderful opportunities for new talent to blossom, from writers, actors and directors through to camera crews, technicians and costume and make-up artists. An enormous asset to the industry, possibly unique outside of the BBC, will be lost as a result of ITV’s blinkered approach. BECTU is proud of its association with The Bill, and of its members who have worked so hard to make the programme.”
“This is a sad time for quality drama in independent broadcasting. BECTU will now work with TalkBack Thames to smooth the way as much as we possibly can for those who are now facing the loss of their jobs, on a programme that they love,” concluded BECTU.