Equity is extremely disappointed and saddened by the decision from the BBC to cancel “Doctors” after 23 years. We are devastated for our members who have worked incredibly hard over the years and with great loyalty to the show and are now faced with this profound loss of work. This is enormously detrimental, not only for those regularly engaged on the show, but also those who are being deprived of an opportunity of work – particularly in the Midlands, where there are very few job prospects due to continuing underinvestment in the region.
“Doctors” has given so many of our members their first credit and can be a vital first step in their acting careers. This decision comes only 18 months since “Holby City” ended and it is extremely concerning that the BBC is making further cuts with no commitment to maintain drama output. Our members have not been immune to the impact on their earnings potential from super inflation but the cast of “Doctors” remained loyal to the programme and to the BBC, and the cast will be crestfallen to be victims of one of the tough choices made by the BBC.
The BBC Charter states that the BBC’s public purpose is “To reflect, represent and serve the diverse communities of all the United Kingdom’s nations and regions and, in doing so, support the creative economy across the United Kingdom”. The BBC has to do better to represent and serve the Midlands region and we call on the BBC to enter into talks with the Union to go through exactly how the funding will be reinvested in the region. We also want a commitment from the BBC that they will work with the Union on developing these new opportunities for nurturing talent and that they do actually deliver on this promise. Our public service broadcaster must ensure that scripted content budgets are protected and that working for the BBC is accessible by all.
Equity and our members have gone above and beyond to support the BBC, public service broadcasting and the licence fee. We will continue to campaign for the retention of the licence fee, the level of which must increase. The BBC must define its existence by being different to the streamers and commercial broadcasters and do what it has always been good at: making TV and radio that reflects the country and projects British programming across the globe.
Our thoughts go to all those impacted, both cast and crew, by these disastrous job cuts. The BBC must work with us to address this devastating loss and work with its stakeholders to make the BBC a truly national broadcaster.