Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminksy launched a passionate defence of the BBC when he took to the Bafta TV Awards stage to accept the award for Best British Drama this evening.
“In a week John Whittigdale described the disappearance of the BBC as ‘a tempting prospect’, I’d like to say a few words in defence of that organisation,” Kosminsky said on stage in London.
The director of the Bafta-winning BBC2 drama said that it was time for viewers to “stand up and fight” for the public broadcaster against what he saw as the government’s “dangerous nonsense.”
“I think most people would agree that the BBC’s main job is to speak truth to power, to report to the British public without fear or favour,” Kosminsky said. “It’s a public broadcaster independent of government, not a state broadcaster. All of this is under threat right now.”
“The Secretary of State has talked about putting six government nominees onto the editorial board of the BBC. And as a sign of things to come the Secretary of State has been telling the BBC when to schedule its main news bulletin, what programmes it should make, and what programmes it shouldn’t make,” he continued. “It’s not something I thought I’d see in my lifetime in this country.”
Kosminsky went on to compare the situation to that of North Korea or Russia, and argued that Channel 4 was also under threat, telling the audience that it would be eviscerated if action wasn’t taken.
“This is really scary stuff folks and do you know what? It’s not their BBC, it’s your BBC. In many ways our broadcasting – the BBC and Channel 4 (which they’re also attempting to eviscerate) – is the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it, not let it go by default, and if we don’t, blink and it’ll be gone. No more Wolf Halls, no more award-winning Dispatches,” he said.
“It’s time for us to stand up and say no to this dangerous nonsense”, he said.
The audience responded with a standing ovation for the Wolf Hall director, and the speech was later broadcast as part of BBC1’s coverage of the House of Fraser BAFTA TV Awards.
After leaving the stage, the director said in the Bafta press conference that “without the BBC Wolf Hall would not have been made.” Wolf Hall’s leading actor Mark Rylance backed up his director’s speech, saying, “I agree with them completely. I’ve made wonderful work with the BBC.”
Actor James Nesbit also echoed Kosminsky’s comments when presenting the award for Best Single Drama to BBC3’s Don’t Take My Baby. “I think it’s true that all these films, everyone in this hall, the writers, the directors, the cast and crew, are able to do what they do as well as they do because of the BBC. Do not strip it away. I mean, did he watch the Hollow Crown last night? Please protect it, let’s cherish it.”
Radio Times editor Ben Preston said at the time, “Soon we’ll discover whether the Culture Secretary has actually listened to your overwhelming support for an independent public service broadcaster supported by the licence fee. Watch this space.”