The BBC’s main cultural review programme, ‘The Review Show’, is being cut back from weekly to monthly and will be shifted to BBC4, which is a bit of a blow to arts PRs, it being one of the few review outlets for cultural events on British TV.
The switch is a result of the BBC’s much documented ‘Delivering Quality First’ cutbacks that were caused by a reduction in the Corporation’s licence fee revenue in real terms. Though the Beeb’s Arts Commissioning Editor says that his department has got off lightly in the cost-saving initiative.
‘The Review Show’ began life as a spin-off to the early 1990s programme ‘The Late Show’, before becoming its own thing, and then being absorbed by the Friday night edition of ‘Newsnight’. It was relaunched as the standalone ‘The Review Show’ in 2010, though still aired after the BBC2 news programme on Friday nights.
Throughout it’s history the programme has followed more or less the same format, with a small panel of critics discussing the week’s big releases from across the arts, usually finding time to bicker about the pros and cons of some of the latest cultural offerings.
In its new incarnation, ‘The Review Show’ will air once a month on BBC4, a one-hour programme scheduled into an earlier Friday evening time-slot in a bid to make it more accessible. The shift to the digital channel comes as BBC4 steps up its arts and culture output, having lost its budget for drama.
BBC4 boss Richard Klein put a positive spin on the changes, quoted by The Guardian thus: “[This] is a fantastic opportunity to reconsider how you might put topical arts out, rather than a slot at 11.20pm on a Friday night which isn’t particularly prominent. I think it’s exciting. It’s good trying to change things and see if we can do it better”.
He added: “When you have blogs and tweets, we have to rethink how we review topical arts; you could argue once a month or once a week, it doesn’t make that much difference. Once a month will make it more of an event”.