Thursday, 10 December 2009

The lack of repeats on prime time BBC1 over Xmas

With the Express' front page about repeats on television fresh in my mind, I sat down to look through the Christmas Radio Times. The expectation of seeing new programmes and film premieres were low.

But something didn't seem quite right. The Express called the BBC the 'worst offender' for showing repeats. The Telegraph said BBC1 viewers would experience 'television déjà vu'. Tory MP John Whittingdale said the 'BBC in particular should not be relying on old shows'. The TaxPayers' Alliance were, of course, seething (are they ever anything else?).

And yet, looking through the BBC1 listings, it seemed the 'critics' were exaggerating.

Surely not?

Firstly, the BBC1 do have the Sign Zone almost every night (well, early morning), which is when programmes are repeated with signing. Over the two weeks, that accounts for 25 hours of repeats.

Is that what the TPA regards as 'tired' and 'unacceptable' from the BBC?

Secondly, it is quite clear that the prime time schedule of BBC1 throughout the two-week period beginning on 19 December has very few repeats at all. Here's an entirely unscientific look at the schedule:

19/12 - 5.45pm-12.55am - no repeats
20/12 - 6.30pm-10.55pm - repeat of Countryfile (60 mins)
21/12 - 6.00pm-11.35pm - revised repeat of Nigella's Christmas Kitchen (30 mins)
22/12 - 6.00pm-1.15am - no repeats
23/12 - 6.00pm-11.15pm - no repeats
24/12 - 5.45pm-1.05am - repeat of Shrek 2 (85 mins)
25/12 - 6.00pm-11.45pm - no repeats
26/12 - 6.00pm-1.10am - no repeats
27/12 - 6.00pm-11.30pm - no repeats
28/12 - 6.20pm-1.20am - repeat of Wallace & Gromit (30 mins)
29/12 - 6.20pm-11.50pm - no repeats
30/12 - 6.20pm-12.15am - no repeats
31/12 - 5.50pm-12.15am - repeat of Dead Man's Chest (140 mins)
1/1 - 6.10pm-10.55pm - no repeats

Which means there will be five-and-three-quarter-hours of repeats in 85 hours of evening/night television on BBC1.

Of course, there are repeats on during the day (can't do without Murder, She Wrote apparently), and BBC 2 are wheeling out old episodes of Terry and June, Are You Being Served? and other comedies for their theme nights.

But assuming the TPA aren't expecting the BBC to show new programmes all day every day - with the knock-on increase in the licence fee that would entail - how can their Chief Executive Matthew Elliott say that:

'churning out hundreds of hours of tired programming is unacceptable behaviour and will leave licence fee payers feeling ripped off. Christmas, more than any other time of the year, is when people want quality entertainment, and Auntie is currently falling far short of the mark.'

It is petty bit of anti-BBC criticism, and it's not even accurate.

And BBC1 is showing The Incredibles, which gives them a free pass in my book.

On the subject of the TaxPayers' Alliance, here's another quick 'audit' of how lazy the newspapers are in always going to the TPA for a bit of predictable outrage. This is how many times each paper (including their Scottish and Sunday versions) has published a quote from them in the ten days since 1 December:

Express: 19
Mail: 15
Telegraph: 9
Times: 4
Sun: 3
Star: 2
Guardian: 2
Independent: 1

Elliott Matthew, from the entirely fictional NewspaperReaders' Alliance, said:

'Churning out hundreds of tired quotes is unacceptable behaviour and will leave newspaper readers feeling ripped off. People want quality reaction quotes, and the newspapers and the TaxPayers' Alliance are currently falling far short of the mark.'


  1. Newspaper Readers Alliance would be NRA surely and we wouldn't want to get confused with them; we'd be better off calling it the British Newspaper Perusers. Oh wait....


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.