Don't take my documentaries away

Yesterday may have been Halloween, but today I learned of a real horror story; the BBC is going to cut "a third of its 180 production staff, including 10 out of 35 producers, nine of 17 assistant producers, 23 of 33 researchers and 11 of 37 production manager jobs," from the Natural History Unit according to the Financial Times. The cuts are a result of the BBC attempting to make back about $4.5 billion due to a bad license-fee settlement, an estimated 2,500 job cuts resulting from the need to recoup the funds. As Julia has noted, this is especially shocking given the popularity, success, and quality of natural history programs like Planet Earth, Blue Planet, and The Life of... Series, although I have no idea how the truncation of the unit will affect the production of future programs. There is at least one more slated documentary series, Life in Cold Blood, that will broadcast in 2008, but it will be David Attenborough's last and will mark the end of an era for BBC natural history films. Although the unit will not disappear altogether, the loss of 1/3 of the unit (including 2/3 of its researchers) and the exit of the "voice" of natural history films will undoubtedly hit the BBC hard, and how this will affect the quality of future programs in anyone's guess.

Given this news, plus the formation of the "Naked Mole Rats are Beautiful" group on Facebook, I thought it was only appropriate to share this clip from The Life of Mammals;

More like this

Sounds typically beeb, really. They've consistently been eroding their strongest bases for years. It's only a matter of time until they're so shite they really deserve to lose their state funding...


Even National Geographic programming has been going down the drain lately, and don't get me started on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel...

No... not that last bastion of quality natural history programmes...



It's pretty much the reverse. They are so shite because they are losing their public funding. Though of course there's a viscous circle effect.

I vaguely recall hearing (though I can't remember where) that Attenborough and associates had to fight tooth and nail to establish the reputation of the Beeb's natural history section in the first place (who wants to watch a bunch of animals running about?). So it's probably not surprising that Attenborough's retirement has further consequences for his department. You'd think they would be trying to find a successor rather than canning the idea entirely, though.

All the Nat Geo documentaries I've seen have struck me as big steaming piles of crapola, to be honest. I'm a big fan of the magazine, but they seem to have a terrible lack of substance when it comes to film.

Substance isn't very profitable. Fluff, however, sells very well indeed, and it's inexpensive to manufacture.

By Caledonian (not verified) on 01 Nov 2007 #permalink