Archive for March 11th, 2010

BBC Axes Friday Play

11th March 2010 by Maura McHugh

Yesterday The Stage reported that next year the BBC Radio 4 will axe its long-running drama strand, the Friday Play, as a result of budget cuts at the station.

The broadcaster’s commissioner for drama, Jeremy Howe, met recently with both radio producers and members of the Writers’ Guild of Britain to outline the station’s plans for drama going forward, including the decision to pull the Friday Play from 2011.

It has also emerged that the broadcaster will reduce the number of Friday Play dramas it commissions this year, with just 12 original dramas planned in the slot, compared with 20 last year.

A spokesman for the BBC confirmed the move, and said BBC Radio 4, along with other networks, is “trying to ensure it obtains the best possible value from its budget”.

“As a result, we have decided to decommission the Friday Play. This is in order to ensure we do not make ends meet simply by cutting deeper into the budgets of other drama slots. We intend to commission some of the dramas that would have run on Fridays in other drama slots across the schedule. In exceptional circumstances, we will run dramas on Fridays where there is no daytime slot that could accommodate the subject matter or treatment,” he said.

The spokesman added that the Friday Play slot has the smallest audience of any drama strand on the station, and he said Radio 4 “felt losing a single strand was preferable to risking the quality of drama output across the schedule”.

“The network’s commitment to drama remains strong and we will continue to commission nearly 200 single plays a year and more than 100 series and serials, in strands including Woman’s Hour drama, Afternoon Play, Classic Serial and the Saturday Play,” he added.

At his meeting with the WGGB, Howe is also believed to have told the guild that Woman’s Hour drama, which has traditionally nurtured new writing talent, was now looking to commission the “biggest and best writers”.