Jimmy McGovern’s Banished the victim of “limited” BBC2 drama budget as BBC confirms cancellation

"The BBC2 drama budget only allows for a limited number of returning dramas a year which means we have to make hard choices,” the Corporation told RadioTimes.com

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Funding cuts are continuing to hit BBC drama – at least on some channels – as BBC2 confirms there are no plans to bring back Jimmy McGovern’s period drama Banished, telling RadioTimes.com that the channel’s budget “only allows for a limited number of returning dramas a year which means we have to make hard choices.”

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Earlier this week, the show’s star Russell Tovey tweeted that the series set in an Australian penal colony would not be returning, calling it a “sad day for drama”.

And today, a BBC spokesperson told RadioTimes.com “There are no current plans for Banished to return. We are very proud of the series and hugely grateful to all those who worked so hard on it. However, in addition to all its new titles, the BBC2 drama budget only allows for a limited number of returning dramas a year which means we have to make hard choices.”

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The statement is very reminiscent of one released after BBC3 announced the axing of cult zombie drama In the Flesh in January. The channel said at the time “given there is only budget for one original drama series a year on the channel it won’t be returning. We loved the show but have to make hard choices to bring new shows through.”

BBC3’s limits on drama commissions, and proposed move online, are part of director-general Tony Hall’s plans to meet financial targets set by the government for the end of the current BBC Charter, which is due for renewal in 2016. Closing BBC3 as a broadcast channel will free up over £50 million from its programme-making budget, providing a cash injection of £30 million into BBC1 drama.

Fans of Banished, who were left in shock last month following an emotionally-charged finale, were equally disturbed when Tovey revealed the show had been cancelled, with many immediately taking to Twitter to protest, adopting the hashtag #bringbackbanished…

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Despite the confirmation from the BBC, fans will be hoping there is still a chance for the show to be saved, perhaps in the same way that cancelled BBC1 crime drama Ripper Street was resurrected in a deal with on-demand service Amazon Prime.