BBC puts families through two weeks without Sherlock, Doctor Who… and everything else in “deprivation test”

The corporation commissioned two separate studies in which families are deprived of all BBC services – and the results are said to be "extraordinary"

Imagine being without the BBC for a two-week period?


No television, so no watching BBC News, Doctor Who, Top Gear, Poldark, Bake Off or Sherlock. There’s no iPlayer, no Radio 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 Live, no BBC online either. Nor will you be allowed DVDs of BBC shows, and of course absolutely no local radio. Easy, huh?

Well, two studies of families who experienced a fortnight without the BBC reveal that it is harder than you think, according to sources at the corporation.

The first study was conducted around six months ago by a “research organisation” and focused on a handful of families who were allowed access to all media including commercial television… but nothing from Auntie. The families came from a range of backgrounds and included people who were happy to pay the licence fee, people who thought it was too high, and people who did not want to pay it at all.

It is understood that the majority came away with a greater appreciation of the BBC, having realised that their use of BBC services was much greater than had thought. “Some families weren’t aware of how much they used the BBC – even those who were sceptical,” said a senior BBC source. “The results are extraordinary and will provide a massive fillip for the BBC in its negotiations with the Government.”

A more extensive study using a larger number of families took place in spring and produced “very similar” results, according to the source. It seems that “the vast majority” of families also finished the second study with a greater appreciation of the BBC than when they began.

A BBC spokesman confirmed that the studies have taken place but declined to comment further. understands that the results of the studies will be published later this summer and includes videos of the families talking about their experiences. It is believed that these will be released online and used by the BBC in its campaign to secure a generous charter from the Government.

The studies were alluded to on Friday by presenter Graham Norton who said he was aware of them and that the BBC should extend what he called the “deprivation test” across the country for a two-month period.

“I think they should switch off the BBC for two months,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Just put £24 into everyone’s bank account, and switch the BBC off for two months, and people would s** themselves.”


BBC attacks Government’s drive for a “diminished, less popular BBC” in green paper

Tories are looking to backtrack on promised inflation increase for BBC licence-fee says Chris Bryant

We have 18 months to save the BBC – “our nation’s cultural NHS”

Director-general: “We want an open and honest debate with the public about what they want from the BBC”

Government orders new panel to conduct thorough review of the BBC

Drama boss Ben Stephenson labels criticism of the BBC “effing nonsense”

No Tory plans to replace licence fee says George Osborne

Wolf Hall producer: “Freezing the licence fee would be death by attrition” for the BBC

Senior Tory MP: TV licence fee is less fair than poll tax 


Influential committee of MPs calls for abolition of the BBC as we know it