It’s The Arts — Or, Rather, It Was The Arts

In fairness to the CBC, they’re hardly the only broadcaster that’s skimping on arts-‘n-culture programming. In the United Kingdom, ITV, the network whose format most resembles the CBC’s (a public-service broadcaster with commercials) is canceling England’s longest-running arts program — sorry “programme” — The South Bank Show, a series that does a soft-sell documentary profile of some arts or pop-culture figure every week, with first-rate directors and production values. Usually one profile a week, but sometimes more; you can see the complete episode list at Epguides.com.

The creator and host of the show, Melvyn Bragg, decided to retire, though the linked article suggests that this was his way of avoiding outright cancellation, since there had been talks about “the future of the show” amidst lower advertising revenues and huge network budget cuts. The network has announced that it “will also be looking at opportunities for further arts programming,” meaning that they’ll eventually find something cheap to put in its place. So whatever might be said about Canada’s lack of arts programming, you can’t say it’s not in step with global trends.

From the South Bank Show episodes on YouTube, here’s a randomly-chosen example, an episode from 2006 about the late British pop star Dusty Springfield (not really a typical episode, though, since most episodes focus on living subjects).


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