Harry Potter and Bluestone 42 star Matthew Lewis has criticised plans to move BBC3 to an online-only platform, just days before the public consultation on the channel’s future concludes.
The actor best known as Neville Longbottom says BBC3 would be a major loss as a broadcast channel, in terms of its ‘risk-taking’ attitude, its skill in unearthing new talent and its focus on programmes aimed at a youthful audience, which he believes is already underserved.
“I’m dead against it, it’s a real shame,” Lewis told RadioTimes.com. “I’d be very sad to see BBC3 go that way.
“I don’t think there’s enough television now for young people in general, and I just feel like there’s certain series that BBC3 take a gamble on and a risk on – it doesn’t always pay off, but every now and then they come up with a show that is unique, and people fall in love with.
“Where are those next gambles, where are those next risks going to be taken? Because without BBC3, I really don’t see it.”
The controversial plans to save around £25 million by moving BBC3 online are in a public consultation period which ends on Tuesday 17th February, after which the BBC Trust will announce its provisional conclusions and open the proposals to a second consultation.
So far the potential closure has attracted criticism from fans of the channel and stars like James Corden, who made their names there, as well as a joint bid from production companies Hat Trick and Avalon to buy out BBC3. A response from the Corporation said “BBC3 is not for sale” but the Trust has since indicated it is considering the bid as part of the consultation.
Lewis, who plays Corporal Gordon “Tower Block” House in BBC3 bomb-disposal comedy Bluestone 42, said he believed the series – which topped a RadioTimes.com readers’ poll as the BBC3 show viewers would most miss, and which returns for a third run next month – might never have been made without BBC3’s support.
“I can’t think of many other channels that might have taken a punt on a comedy show on Afghanistan except BBC3,” he said.
“We’re making a show that’s not only a drama – and there is a lot of drama – but the humour is still very much there. And it’s about a current conflict. I just think it’s so topical and a story that’s got to be told.
“It does break my heart to think this show might not be seen by as many people as it should be in the future.
“I genuinely think that BBC3 is something that we should not be letting go. There’s so much, such good quality on there, and the young undiscovered talent that’s on there is full to the brim.
“And I just worry where we’re going to find the next batch of talent if we don’t have something like that available.”
Bluestone 42 will return to BBC3 next month