The BBC has confirmed that original TV output ‘is no longer a priority’ and will cease producing new programmes by the middle of 2013.
Following a successful two-week trial of buying loads of Pixar films that everyone has already seen and repeating Christmas ‘specials’ from 2009, Director General Tony Hall praised accountants for thinking ‘out of the goggle box’ and moving away from the restrictive ‘making things you might want to watch’ business model.
Managers at the Corporation have learned how to stretch just 10 minutes of new output so that it fills at least a month in the schedule. But after travel expenses, hush money, golden goodbyes and legal fees, making up to 2 hours of fresh programmes a year is just too costly for the BBC to consider in future.
“Usually, we rely on a morsel of so-called ‘new material’ for our other shows to feed off”, explained Hall. “We can report it as ‘news’, and interview the actors continuously on The One Show, Graham Norton and Alan Carr. With carefully planned sneak-previews, plot spoilers and trailers as long as the show itself, even the most worryingly ground-breaking output can feel safe and familiar, by the time we eventually get round to broadcasting it.”
Hall revealed that some shows have been in a loop for quite some time now; production of Eastenders was cancelled 13 years ago. Filmed from nine different angles between early 1985 and January 2000, there’s enough old material for the show to run until 2147. “Dirty Den will be back in a couple of months from now”, enthused Hall. “But this time, you’ll just see the back of his head. And Wellard the dog is appearing on Newsnight, to discuss how fame has affected his pups.”
The BBC has known for some time that the public will watch pretty much anything, particularly those that can’t afford Sky. “In some ways, it’s this unquestioning loyalty that's our biggest challenge”, confessed Hall. “Some of you lot still trust us implicitly. But hopefully, we can undermine that with the last commission we make; a Panorama investigation into how we’ve wasted your licence fee.”
The show will be screened three times a night every week day in March, with a team of lawyers on hand to deal with any complaints. "If you don’t like it, you can always cancel your direct debit in protest”, suggested Hall. “With our new focus on legislation instead of TV production, we’re more than ready to fine you repeatedly.”