Campaign statement regarding the cancellation of 'Doctors'
We are appealing to the BBC to reconsider the decision to cancel the daytime series ‘Doctors’, which has been made at the BBC Studios Drama Village in Birmingham since 2005.
We acknowledge the BBC is under financial pressure but we are also aware that the Midlands has already seen the biggest reduction of BBC production activity and facilities in the UK.
The region is not adequately represented in BBC production and output, and certainly not in any way that is comparable with any other part of the country.
As far as network television production is concerned all we now have left here is the Drama Village at Selly Oak.
This unit has been phenomenally successful, producing Doctors and many other productions, several of which continue to earn BBC Studios vital revenues on UKTV and in export sales.
We do not believe that the Midlands should be on the receiving end of any further cutbacks to the BBC’s presence and its facilities. We have already shouldered more than our fair share.
Doctors is successful, with 1.2 million to 1.3 million viewers per episode in October 2023. It gets more viewers than most non-news daytime TV programmes on either BBC1 or ITV1. More than:
Homes under the Hammer; Politics Live; Escape to the Country; Money for Nothing; Rip-off Britain; Lorraine; Good Morning Britain, Tenable and many others - both daytime and prime time.
We do not believe that the cancellation of Doctors is the right decision.
We understand that the current lease on the Drama Village space at Selly Oak will not be renewed. There are alternatives, such as at Digbeth, the location for new BBC Midlands offices.
The Midlands & East generates some £952 million in licence fee revenue each year, or £9.5 billion over a ten-year Charter period. These figures represent one quarter of licence fee revenue yet only 2.7% of the BBC’s television budget was spent in the region in 2022. See chart below.
To lose a highly successful and much appreciated daytime drama, and a small highly efficient production centre which is the only BBC studios production unit in the Midlands, is a decision that should not be taken lightly. The implications extend beyond one programme.
We believe that the BBC needs a much greater production presence in the heart of England if we are to save public service broadcasting and public funding in the future. It is impossible to defend such public funding from here when BBC coverage and representation is as poor as it has become.
We need more of the BBC here, not less.
Campaign for Regional Broadcasting Midlands. November 2023.