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How I would save the falling BBC ratings UK News

I am writing this article in 30 degree heat on my birthday, which shows true devotion. I don’t know how old I am because I stopped counting after 65, but I still have 25 in my head, even though my body doesn’t agree.

I love the nostalgia for old black and white TV series and am currently watching a box set of Dial 999, which was filmed in 1959 at Elstree Studios and across London as it was a detective series. The star was Canadian actor Robert Beatty and every episode is packed with familiar actors from that era. Some were already known in the movies and others were just starting out, like Patrick Troughton a few years old of becoming Dr Who and a familiar name. At that time, the acting profession was much smaller and actors tended to be cataloged in comedic roles, villains, romantic heroes, barmaids and brass for example. Some, like Warren Mitchell before Until death do us part, usually played strangers, as did young Christopher Lee.

Some 40 years after Dial 999 ended, I invited Robert Beatty to come back to Elstree for a reception and he asked if he could bring a friend, who turned out to be Eartha Kitt. I recommend watching the series if only for views of London as it was in the 1950s and to see how that has changed.

Time series:

I’m worried about EastEnders, which is being filmed on BBC Elstree, as viewership numbers fell off the cliff and at one point a few weeks ago were as low as two million which is a steep drop compared to the happy days of about 20 million. This is of course true for all ITV and BBC programming, as young viewers in particular turn to Netflix and other channels with big budgets. The BBC just spent several million pounds rebuilding the street decor and other studio upgrades. My only advice to producers and writers is to cut back on politically correct but often depressing storylines. In general, I would advise them to start remembering that a quarter of the population is over 60 and stop chasing young viewers, which quickly becomes a lost cause.

Across the street at Elstree Studios, the BBC is renting stage space for various TV series such as Useless and another popular show filmed ago The hunt, moderated by Bradley Walsh. I met Bradley, who I believe was born in Watford, and he’s a nice guy and a gentleman not to mention many talents. However, I think he’s overexposed on TV even though it has apparently grossed him £ 12million. Although The hunt is shown throughout the year, they actually shoot 210 episodes, 16 celebrity editions, and 16 Beat Hunters in just 86 days.

I still think a great afternoon TV show would be like “whatever happened to”, with guests from the music, TV, and movie world of yesteryear. It would be inexpensive to film and would have great appeal to older viewers, which the BBC would have to remember to pay its license for. I’m told the BBC pays a celebrity £ 5,000 to appear on Useless, although they play for charity. For such money, I’m sure one could attract stars from the past. Nostalgia is very popular. In 1989, I was a program consultant on a two-part BBC television documentary that scored higher than EastEnders but cost a pittance. Just a thought.

  • Paul Welsh MBE is a writer and historian from Borehamwood of Elstree Studios

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This notice was published: 2021-07-25 19:00:00

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