“It only exists if we really believe it matters”: BBC releases short film celebrating its cultural influence amid license fee threats
The BBC has released a two-minute film highlighting the breadth and depth of its cultural influence in the past century, with contributions from international names including David Attenborough and Idris Elba. “This is Our BBC” comes in the wake of recent attacks on the BBC and threats to its funding model by the ruling Conservative government.
Drawing on the BBC’s vast archive as it enters its 100th year in 2022, the film features clips from memorable events like Live Aid, the Proms and Glastonbury festival, which attract millions of viewers both domestic and international.
The message of the film seems to be to remind viewers of the BBC’s role in uniting the nation around shared cultural moments, and emphasising that it is for the public to decide on its future, not the politicians of the moment.
Despite the fact that the BBC is often found to be one of the most trusted media brands globally, with the World Service radio channel reaching 279m million people per week and the BBC News website being the world’s most visited, its reputation has taken some heat lately. During the Brexit years especially, the BBC’s integrity was severely questioned as it was accused of bias from both remain and leave sides of the debate. Amid a more polarised political environment in general, the role of an impartial, plain-speaking public broadcaster is arguably more important than ever – but also less appreciated.
Most recently, the UK government – led by Boris Johnson – has attacked the organisation’s funding model, which rests in part on an annual license fee of GBP £159 charged to each UK household. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries imposed a two-year license fee freeze on the corporation, announcing that from 2028 the charge would be scrapped entirely, throwing the BBC’s future financial security into some doubt.
With a nod to this turn of events in a blog post accompanying the film’s release, Kerris Bright, Chief Customer Officer at the BBC, writes: “This is Our BBC features a cast of famous faces from Idris Elba, to Sir David Attenborough, Jodi Comer, Dizzee Rascal and newsreaders through the ages. It also captures some amazing and memorable moments we have shared – Freddie Mercury at Live Aid, Adele at Glastonbury and the Proms. I’m sure you will spot something you love – moments, faces, programmes – those things we smile and laugh along to; share with friends and family and remember fondly, or sometimes shed a tear to.
“The fact it comes to screens now is quite timely, given much has been said and written about the future of the BBC in recent weeks. In many ways, that goes to the very heart of what the BBC has been, is and will be in the future. We are at the very heart of UK life. Everyone will have a view on what the BBC does well or their favourite moments and, of course, what we could do better.”
Amid a more polarised political environment in general, the role of an impartial, plain-speaking public broadcaster is arguably more important than ever – but also less appreciated.
Bright’s blog post continues: “It is essential there is debate on the role of the national broadcaster – after all it belongs to all of us. We play a role in people’s lives like no other media organisation and we want to be something that people not only value but get value from. Ninety per cent of all UK adults use the BBC’s services every week, and that rises to almost 100 per cent over a month.
“This is Our BBC reveals that the BBC is a reflection of who we are, across all our nations. We are here to represent communities, bring people together, witness moments in history and celebrate sporting success. It shows us there should always be something for everyone on the BBC and I think that’s something we should all reflect on and be proud of in our 100th year.”