BBC Four’s future is unsure, but we need arts channels like it now more than ever


BBC 4 first launched virtually 20 years in the past, again in 2002. On the time, controller Roly Keating claimed in Radio Instances that the brand new channel would be capable of obtain issues that no different channel may – its slogan was “all people wants a spot to assume”. It was, and is, ostensibly a spot for tradition, a free-to-air channel serving to to democratise the arts. 

It’s additionally formidable when it involves commissioning authentic British content material. Such gems like political satire The Thick of It, Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, the hilarious Olympics comedy Twenty Twelve, and the thinking-woman’s quiz sport Solely Join, hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell, all originated on BBC 4.

Which is why the brand new hearsay that the BBC will quickly be relegating BBC 4 to on-line, as it beforehand did with BBC Three, got here as such an unwelcome shock. Final week Broadcast added oxygen to these trade rumours, revealing that BBC sources feared for the channel’s future following its editor Cassian Harrison’s transfer to BBC Studios.

A lot has been stated within the current weeks and months about how in occasions of crises, we flip to the arts – but that within the case of this specific disaster, the coronavirus pandemic, the arts have by no means been more in danger. Following the information about BBC 4, it have to be assumed that the identical can now be stated for arts programming. 

At occasions scary, at different occasions irritating, lockdown is a hectic state to be in, and BBC 4 represents all the things that’s retaining us sane throughout this pandemic. We discover refuge within the arts: escapism, a artistic outlet, or else a spot to vanish. Beneath lockdown, galleries, theatres and movie units are (rightly) closed. Concert events are cancelled, and booksellers struggling. But as we’ve found, the arts aren’t luxuries: they’re a significant a part of our personal identities, of our tradition and communities.

By means of movie and artwork and studying books, we journey to locations we could by no means go, meet folks we would by no means encounter in any other case; it’s a lifeline for many who are at the moment staring on the identical 4 partitions day in, day trip, and notably for these self-isolating alone. 

For these caught at house and on the lookout for artistic methods to fill their time, BBC 4 has crammed that hole. Tomorrow at 8pm, for instance, BBC 4 viewers are invited to select up their pencils for a life drawing class – with actual nude fashions – because the nation channels its inventive aspect. 

It’s by way of BBC 4 that we have been first launched to many overseas dramas, from Twin (the Scandi-noir, starring Sport of Thrones’ Kristofer Hivju, that’s not too long ago gripped the nation), The Killing and the unique Wallander, to American imports like Mad Males and the light artwork sequence Portray with Bob Ross, which has loved a resurgence of curiosity and achieved cult standing amongst millennials and Era Z viewers (it even featured in teen drama Euphoria). 

Britain’s future music stars, like the royal marriage ceremony cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, are found on the competition BBC Younger Musician, which has been televised solely for BBC 4 since 2014. 

In case you go on BBC iPlayer, BBC Four’s channel web page is chock-full of content material for these in quarantine. For these lacking visits to artwork galleries, you possibly can try their ‘Museums in Quarantine’ four-parter. Slowly realising you’ll most likely miss that sold-out play you booked earlier than the lockdown? You may watch the channel’s Tradition In Quarantine: Shakespeare sequence. But after all, the wonderful thing about BBC 4 is that it’s additionally on-air, so older, much less cellular and probably much less tech-savvy viewers can nonetheless expertise tradition from the consolation of their properties. 

UNSPECIFIED, UNDATED - APRIL 24: (NO SALES) In this undated handout supplied by Kensington Palace, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who will be performing at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle poses for a photograph. The couple will marry in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle on May 19. (Photo by Lars Borges/Kensington Palace via Getty Images)

Music, literature, drama, comedy, theatre, artwork: it’s all there. And now more than ever, we need channels like BBC 4, to plug the hole that’s at the moment lacking from our lives. 

By means of channels like BBC 4, we can all entry the arts. It doesn’t matter if we couldn’t attend that well-known play at The Globe Theatre, or couldn’t go to the Tate Fashionable; and it actually doesn’t matter if we’d usually be too shy to attend a real-life life drawing class.

But taking BBC 4 off-air, and limiting its assets, would make it that little bit tougher for folks to expertise world-class tradition – whether or not we’re in lockdown or not. 

Try what’s on BBC 4 and different channels utilizing our TV Information


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