Coming into this class, I obviously brought with me a love of a number of British shows, but a lack of context. Other than shows that air on BBC that also air on BBC America, I didn’t really know where many of the shows I watch air because I watch them online, on Netflix, or on a friend’s computer. It was really interesting to me to learn about the brands of each channel, even within the same family of channels. It makes much more sense to me now that Torchwood premiered on BBC3 and I can even make some sense of Gypsy Weddings when it airs on TLC.
British TV oddly enough seems to have less of an identity crisis than the American networks. British channels and US networks both show a mix of programming, but the British method seems oddly cohesive (generally). Being able to look at a show and have an idea of what channel it airs on is new endlessly fascinating. It would also be a fun party game (for Maija and me anyway…).
Seeing the ways that the BBC in particular tries to serve the public interest across its family of channels has been a lesson in almost Malcolm Tucker-esque spin. I think it’s really admirable that after 50+ years, the BBC is still dedicated to public service broadcasting, going beyond strict Reithian ideals and adapting the idea of “public service” for a 21st century audience. I feel really defensive of the BBC whenever I read about Rupert Murdoch potentially messing things up for everyone over there (it reminds me of that line from Mean Girls: “She’s a life ruiner. A ruiner of lives.”).
It’s really remarkable how different British and US television really is. What works, how things work, and the branding and ideals behind programming, and almost everything else is different. Language might be one of the only thing US and UK produced television have in common, and it was fun to parse out the similarities and differences this semester.