Seth MacFarlane’s edgy animated US comedy Family Guy may be a tried and tested ratings winner for BBC3 but it’s two homegrown shows that viewers are most keen to save as the channel’s programme-making budget is threatened by its proposed move online to BBC iPayer.
Afghanistan-set bomb disposal sitcom Bluestone 42 – which rivals Family Guy with audiences of 800,000 – is the BBC3 show viewers would most like to see avoid the axe, garnering almost 27% of the 1,776 votes in a RadioTimes.com poll. The unlikely comedy is closely followed by sophisticated zombie drama In the Flesh, with just over 24% of the vote.
Family Guy is in third place, but lagging a long way behind with 7%, and could in fact be one of BBC3’s first losses. 20th Century Fox is set to withdraw the show from BBC3 if the channel does move online, amid concerns about iPlayer’s security and the risk of piracy.
Meanwhile, stand-up show Russell Howard’s Good News and Jack Whitehall’s school-set sitcom Bad Education are also among the shows viewers are hoping can avoid cancellation.
Currently in the midst of its second series, Bluestone 42 is the first major series from writers Richard Hurst and James Cary and stars a host of British acting talent including Oliver Chris, Kelly Adams, Matthew Lewis, Katie Lyons, Stephen Wight and Tony Gardner.
It mixes comedy about military bureaucracy, banter between the members of the bomb disposal detachment and a long-running will-they-won’t-they plotline involving Chris’s Captain Nick Medhurst and Adams’s Padre Mary Greenstock with the potentially deadly situations their work places them in.
In the Flesh is by Dominic Mitchell, a young writer discovered through the BBC’s Northern Voices competition. It follows the aftermath off a “zombie uprising”, focusing on the gradual re-integration into society of Partially Deceased Syndrome sufferer Keiren (Luke Newberry). Its opening three-part series was watched by around half a million viewers, and an extended second run is due this year.
Under plans unveiled recently by BBC director-general Tony Hall, BBC3’s content budget would be slashed by more than half, with £30 million going to bolster BBC1’s drama funds. Many fear this could be the thin end of the wedge for the only BBC TV channel aimed at 16-34-year-olds.