Lenny Henry: Scheduled TV could feel quaint in 10 years

We asked industry insiders for their opinions on TV's future, and now we're showcasing our favourite responses


Earlier this year we asked industry insiders to tell us their predictions for the future of TV over the next 10 years, with the responses compiled here.


However, there were one or two particularly eloquent replies that we felt bad about cutting short, so we’re printing a couple of respondees’ answers in longer form as an accompaniment to the main article.

One of those respondees was actor, writer and presenter Sir Lenny Henry – so here’s what he had to say when we asked his opinion.

To celebrate Lenny Henry: a Life on Screen we have reproduced what Sir Lenny told us:

In ten years I wonder if the idea of scheduled television won’t feel quaint. Apart from news and current affairs, everything else will probably be ‘on demand’ whatever it is whenever we desire. Big ticket shows / series/serials will launch in a fanfare of publicity – then because we’ll all be wired up and subscribing up the wazoo/ entire series will be beamed to us to multiple platforms.

I think there might be different strands of TV – local and global.

Local will be public and free.

Global will be like the movies/ if you want to watch the new Vince Gilligan or Jimmy McGovern or Shonda Rhimes or Sally Wainwright – perhaps we’ll be in a crowd funded situation where the public sponsor their favourite writers to write whatever they want.

There’s already a ‘paid content’ vibe in the broadsheets mags nowadays: I see product placement playing a much bigger role in our future- as company’s increase promotional spend- why wouldn’t they hire Tarantino or Spike Lee or Guy Richie to create entire story cycles built around their products. 90 minute ads- shot by superstar directors.

In America I envisage a group of people who are put into cryo sleep in order to catch up with all the boxed sets they’ve missed.

And perhaps one day – this plethora of niche programming implodes … And we’re left with just three channels. Because after the great experiment of giving the people what they want when the want it all the time, it’s decided that, actually: what they want is a finite list of programmes every day.

Less choice, more quality. Diverse, inclusive content.

The best of the best.

But that would never happen, right?

Read more: can we predict the future of TV?


This article was originally published in September 2016. Lenny Henry: A Life on Screen is on BBC2 tonight at 9pm