Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: June ::
Re: BBC Update
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1155  Monday, 5 June 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 02 Jun 2000 13:31:57 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1146 Re: BBC Update

[2]     From:   Sam Small <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 03 Jun 2000 01:29:48 +0100
        Subj:   The BBC and Money


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 02 Jun 2000 13:31:57 -0700
Subject: Re: BBC Update
Comment:        SHK 11.1146 Re: BBC Update

John Ramsay wrote to decry that Burton Cromer doesn't believe it would
be finically worth the BBCs efforts to release the BBC Shakespeare on
home video in the NTSC format.  He gives examples of people making money
on Shakespeare as a counter argument.

I love John's enthusiasm.  I hope that doesn't get lost in my next
comments.  I question two of his examples.

> Stratfords in England, Canada, elsewhere.
> Other towns with Shakespeare festivals.

They, of course, operate at a loss.  Most receive subsidies.

> TV corporations, even Cromer's own BBC.

The BBC made a fortune with The BBC Shakespeare (titled The Shakespeare
Plays in the United States).  They made a profit before the first year's
shows were in the can, if my memory of Susan Willis' excellent book on
the series is correct.  On the other hand, if you check the ratings for
Shakespeare on TV, the story is not pretty.  You can find an exception
or two, but mostly it is trounced by the competition, and has been since
after the Second World War.  The pre-war BBC Scenes from Shakespeare
series was a ratings winner, but there was only one television channel
in the U.K. at the time, so there was no competition.  TV Shakespeare
seldom does well when it has competition.

American TV networks, and cable channels in the 70s and 80s, showed
Shakespeare early on, then stopped.  Other programming drew better
numbers.  Yes, they made money, TV can always make money if they control
expenses, but they can make a lot more money with a sit com that isn't
The Merry Wives of Windsor.

About 10 titles (I don't recall the exact number) from the BBC
Shakespeare were released for home video in the PAL format in Great
Britain, maybe 10 years ago.  They issued no more, I presume because
they didn't make money, or didn't make enough to make it worth
continuing.

I really do love John's enthusiasm, and the markets may be different in
North America.  I suspect a smaller percentage of the population would
buy the BBC Shakespeare, but there are many more potential customers.
I'm just trying to be fair when I say that I don't know if Burton Cromer
has made a good finical decision or not.  I am disappointed because I'd
like to upgrade my taped during broadcast collection, and I know many
others are disappointed as well.  The Time/Life prices are just too
high.

I really do give Tanya Gough a lot of credit for going up against a big
bureaucracy, even if she hasn't succeeded so far.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sam Small <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 03 Jun 2000 01:29:48 +0100
Subject:        The BBC and Money

When has Shakespeare not been a 'money maker'?

Well, actually Shakespeare himself was a serious money maker.  He owned
10% of the Globe Theatre in London and a very large estate in
Stratford.  36 plays in 20 years means a massive new play project every
six months. Clearly the activity of someone driven by commercial
consideration.  And I must add - thank goodness for all that.

I applaud the efforts of Tanya for the BBC Shakespeares.  Their attitude
is even more galling considering that the British tax payer paid for
every single one.  But, having seen several episodes I found them trite,
pompous and soulless.  They seem to be obsessed with relentless
execution no matter what the audience perceive.  It is a sleep walk of
scholarly exactitude that should be seen by no-one.  It is time for an
American Shakespeare cannon.

SAM SMALL
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.