I’ll immediately rubbish my own title. Of course, the BBC does thousands of things. Its beauty is that hundreds of thousands of people can point to be one thing and say “That is what the BBC is for” – be it “Strictly”, Greg James or BBC Radio Ulster.
For me, if I was to identify one programme series which summarises all that is great about the BBC, it would be “Hollow Crown“, a quartet of Shakespeare kingly history plays currently showing on BBC2.
It takes considerable courage to show two hours of Shakespeare at peak hours on Saturday night. But when you add together the magic of Shakespeare, sumptuous productions directed by Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre and Thea Sharrock and an array of superb performances by our best luvvies such as Simon Russell-Beale, Jeremy Irons, David Suchet, Julie Walters, Alun Armstrong, Joe Armstrong, David Morrissey etc etc you have a feast of television drama at a level not often witnessed.
As critic Mark Lawson remarked: “The Hollow Crown feels as good as TV Shakespeare is going to get.”
But, of course, the highest priority of the BBC is not drama, but tennis, as we all know. So, as Alex Wilcock has described, the second episode of “Hollow Crown” was postponed at the last minute due to the over-running of the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles finals. I still don’t know when the heck they broadcast it and my Sky Box lost the will to live and failed to capture it whenever the BBC did deign to show it. Never fear, I eventually caught up with Henry IV Part One via BBC iPlayer – another “What the BBC is for” miracle.
* Paul Walter is a LibDem activist in Newbury, Berkshire and blogs at Liberal Burblings