Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has used a screening of the series nine premiere to give a staunch defence of the BBC.
“I think a very, very small number of people think the BBC is a bad idea, and a huge number of people think it’s a wonderful idea,” he told a crowd of fans and journalists at the Edinburgh International Television Festival. “Sadly the small number of people are all in government.”
“That’s giving a slightly unbalanced version of events,” he then admitted.
Nevertheless, Moffat speculated that shows as fundamentally barmy as Doctor Who would never have existed without the Corporation.
“I think it’s fair to say, there is only one broadcaster in the whole world who would have come up with, and transmitted, as a good idea, Doctor Who,” he said, before imagining the meeting that led to the show’s creation:
“Is he gonna be a young, dashing hero?”
“What’s the spaceship gonna look like?”
“You’re gonna love this…”
“Pitch that at NBC. Pitch that nowadays,” Moffat challenged. “It’s insane.”
With budgets and channels being cut, the Charter Renewal looming and John ‘I am not the BBC’s enemy’ Whittingdale as Culture Secretary, the feeling at this year’s Television Festival has been that the BBC is somehow under siege. In fact, one panel was named ‘The BBC: Under Siege’.
But Moffat joined his fellow Scotsman Armando Ianucci in praising the Corporation and leading the counterattack, and urged everyone to read the satirist’s well-received keynote speech.
“I wouldn’t normally go round saying read the MacTaggart Lecture, because I like you, but this is epic,” he said. “It’s incredibly funny and it is so on-point and insightful, you’ll be both laughing and air-punching, which is what I like to do when reading a speech.”
As well as his own show, Moffat found time to praise other BBC programmes for their left-field thinking. “There is no other broadcaster so madly varied and so genuinely mad,” he claimed. “Can you imagine what the world would be like without all of that insane variety?”