The Playgoer: Et tu, Beeb?

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Et tu, Beeb?

It's not just American tv that's forgotten about serious stage drama.  Veteran Guardian critic Michael Billington laments the BBC's forfeiting of its own great legacy in that area.  Fortunately the mantle has been taken up by the commercial Sky network.

I don't want to lapse into BBC-bashing, but I find it astonishing that Sky Arts is currently occupying territory that once would have been claimed by public-service broadcasting. But, in recent years, the BBC has treated theatre-based drama with an indifference bordering on contempt. Aside from the superb RSC Hamlet last Christmas, I can't think of any stage play shown recently on BBC TV; and I suspect Hamlet only made it into the schedules because it starred David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. But the BBC's abject failure is Sky's opportunity.
The current Sky offering is the early Chekhov "vaudeviles" featuring, among others, the brilliant Steve Coogan.

So how do we get this in the States? Should be easy in the digital age, you'd think.

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