The BBC Makes a Commitment to the Arts


This is admirable, but if you were to ask an American what has been the BBC's most successful export in terms of the arts, many might say Downton Abbey.

And, they would be wrong. Downton is a product of ITV, not the BBC.

Nevertheless, the appeal of the arts has never been greater. If you look at the quality of the television that has been produced in the United States over the last decade--True Detective, Breaking Bad, Louie, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, The Wire--the Brits have nothing to compare them with, save Sherlock and Downton (and how long will that last, given how much everyone hated Season Four?). Television programs produced for commercial gain really do much better as artistic achievements.

That's not a knock against what the BBC is trying to do--it's just a realization that if you have a great idea and if you want to do something of extremely high quality that will have a lasting cultural and artistic impact, your ass ought to be in front of an executive working for AMC, FX, HBO or Showtime--someone like that. They're going to have some deeper pockets than the BBC. It's just that simple.