BBC Director General Mark Thompson today announced that the BBC’s financial troubles could soon be behind them if a radical new approach to programming is implemented.
‘We’ve noticed how viewers of Final Score are happy to watch other people watching football matches rather than watching the matches themselves’ he explained, ‘so we’re going to expand the idea to other areas of BBC programming. For example, instead of paying millions for the rights to show Wimbledon next year we’ll just show Sue Barker and John McEnroe watching tennis for a fortnight instead. It’ll save a fortune. We might even be able to pay some of our staff pensions.’
He went on to add that the plan wasn’t just restricted to sports coverage. ‘With immediate effect we’re also going stop making Eastenders’ he said. ‘Instead we’ll just show four carefully selected soap opera pundits watching TV screens and making the sort of comments you'd normally make whilst watching it, like 'look at that - another token ethnic family has just moved in' or 'oh my word, someone's just been unfaithful, who'd have thought it'. Of course, there won’t be anything on their screens, but the viewers won’t know that.‘ He also revealed that costume dramas, sitcoms and gameshows would also receive the Final Score treatment, although he admitted that it might be difficult to find four people willing to pretend to laugh whilst watching My Family.
Mr Thompson also hinted that even greater savings could be found by merging all BBC channels into one, with different pundits watching BBC1, 2, 3, 4, News 24, CBBC and Cbeebies all at the same time. 'It could be terribly exciting. Just imagine cutting to updates from Nick Robinson watching Bargain Hunt to Mr Tumble watching Prime Minister's Questions to Ainsley Harriett watching In The Night Garden, or something' he grinned. ‘We could even scrap our own ‘programming’ altogether and just show pundits watching ITV and Sky’ he added.
An additional benefit of the plan would be to breathe new life into the BBC's busy schedule of repeats. 'You could watch different pundits watching each episode of 2 Pints of Lager another 20 times and every time it would be as fresh and funny as the first time you saw it' he said.
A further announcement from Mr Thompson is expected later today in an interview that can be seen by watching the Ten o’Clock News, where Huw Edwards will be watching tonight’s ITN News at 10.