11 May 2021
Equity's Audio Committee, together with General Secretary Paul W Fleming and President Maureen Beattie, have sent an open letter to the BBC condemning its axing of the 15-minute drama on Radio 4. The letter to BBC director general Tim Davie argues that this decision will not only pierce the heart of a vital art form, but also undermines the long-term foundation of the UK’s booming audio industry. The letter urges Mr Davie to announce improved sustainable funding for an ambitious radio drama strategy.
The letter in full
Dear Mr Davie,
We are writing on behalf of Equity to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the axing of the 15-minute drama on Radio 4. This is the latest in a series of decisions which are piercing the heart of a vital art form, but also undermining the long-term foundation of the UK’s booming audio industry.
Spoken word content is a proud part of the cultural tradition of the UK, and a vital part of its workforce ecosystem. For audio artists, writers, and others it provides not only a valued platform to explore dramatic ideas and skills, but regular employment. It is well valued by audiences of every age, providing a powerful way to challenge our deepest perceptions and entertain the imagination in a way the visual form cannot.
The very direct impact of this loss of work on Equity members will hinder the ability of some to remain in the creative industries. After a year where work in entertainment and the arts has proved vital to the world’s wellbeing, a workforce which is looking to the BBC to provide quality engagements has found itself abandoned whilst theatre fights to reopen sustainably.
Beyond the direct impact of loss of work, the decision to slash radio drama and other spoken word content neglects the BBC’s role as the backbone and benchmark of our global pre-eminence in audio work. It is through training for, and working on, radio drama – unique in its scale in the UK – that we attract growing dubbing and video game work, and have the breadth of talent to feed the booming audio book market.
Spoken word needs more of a platform, and more resource – not less. We urge you in the strongest possible terms to show your commitment, and use this critical year for BBC resourcing to announce improved sustainable funding for an ambitious radio drama strategy.
A workforce, and a whole industry, are watching.
Paul. W Fleming – General Secretary
Maureen Beattie – President
David John – Audio Councillor
Sheila Mitchell – Chair of Audio Committee
David Thorpe – Vice Chair of Audio Committee
Annette Rizzo – Member of Audio Committee
Ashabi Ajikawo – Member of Audio Committee
Dan Richards – Member of Audio Committee
Kerry Gooderson – Member of Audio Committee
Liza Ross – Member of Audio Committee
Louise Barrett – Member of Audio Committee
Marcus Hutton – Member of Audio Committee