Top British acting stars, including Dame Judi Dench, Steve Coogan, David Oyelowo, Sir Ian McKellen, Naomie Harris, Daniel Radcliffe and James Corden have taken part in a new campaign video defending the BBC against cuts.
The actors have joined forces with directors Richard Curtis, Tom Cooper and Danny Boyle in talking about the Corporation and how it has inspired them over the years. The video is released under the banner “Don’t let the BBC become a memory. Fight for it”.
In an emotional address to the camera, Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen explains how his exposure to long-running Radio 4 drama strand Saturday Night Theatre gave him his education in “world drama”.
“Sitting around the radio with my family – I might get a bit teary because that’s the best memories of my childhood.”
Radcliffe thanks the BBC for his first TV role in period drama David Copperfield.
“I got to work on the first job I did with Bob Hoskins, Maggie Smith, Ian McNiece, Imelda Staunton, Paul Whitehouse, Emilia Fox, it just goes on and on.”
In the video Danny Boyle reveals that he wanted his Olympic Opening Ceremony in 2012 to celebrate the BBC but says that the Corporation vetoed the proposal because it didn’t want to be seen to be making an advertisement about itself. Other British institutions like the NHS were lauded in the ceremony.
“We all share in something that is a national voice and a national conscience, and that is why it is under attack from governments and politicians – and competitors, too,” he adds.
Corden also thanks the BBC for his his first small role, in The Vicar of Dibley when he was 15. He says that if it weren’t for watching The Royle Family he would have never made hit sitcom Gavin & Stacey.
“I had never really seen anyone do a TV show that just showed famiies that were like mine.”
Coogan says of the BBC: “It is public philanthropy, serving the nation for its own sake.”
Dench tells how, as a child, she enjoyed being scared by radio show Appointment with Fear and adds: “I think we are very lucky to have the BBC. Long may it continue.”
The stars were assembled by independent producers Charlie Parsons and Labour peer Waheed Alli on behalf of The Great BBC Campaign.
The film, made by Simon Curtis, director of My Week with Marilyn, comes before the publication of a white paper on the future of the corporation.