The BBC points out its role at the heart of British culture in new ad

A masterful piece of editing, which combines hordes of BBC clips from over the decades, the film ostensibly celebrates the broadcaster’s 100th birthday but arrives amidst a debate about its future

When the culture secretary Nadine Dorries took to Twitter last month to announce that the current BBC licence fee arrangement “will be the last” and that the “days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over”, one of many responses from the public was the sharing of an ad from the mid-1980s.

Demonstrating that the current debates over the value for money offered by the BBC are far from new, the spot sees John Cleese in a pub grumbling to the landlord about the cost of his TV licence, before numerous stars of the time – including David Attenborough, David Dimbleby and Esther Rantzen – pop up to point out the myriad content it offers (not that it would have been called ‘content’ then).

This week the BBC of today has released a new film that serves pretty much the same purpose, 21st century style (though still featuring David Attenborough, naturally). Titled This Is Our BBC, it features clips from shows classic and recent, which come together to demonstrate the wealth of programming we receive from its array of channels.

The film is by BBC Creative and arrives as part of the celebrations for the BBC’s 100th birthday, which will be taking place throughout the year. Yet, it’s impossible not to also view it as a rallying cry for all the BBC offers.

It quickly becomes a surprisingly emotional watch as clips from Live Aid and Alan Partridge rub up against sports, news, Fleabag, Absolutely Fabulous, daytime TV shows, a streaker running across a football pitch, and much more. Meanwhile the edited together voiceover points out that “here’s the thing, the BBC doesn’t have to be here, it only exists if we really believe it matters”.

Since her first tweet, Dorries has dialled back a little from her initial remarks about the licence fee, instead stating that the government is “announcing a debate and a discussion”. It will undoubtedly be a conversation that will run and run, but this film could be viewed as the BBC’s first reply, and it’s a powerful one.

Credits:
Agency: BBC Creatives
Director, BBC Creative: Justin Bairamian
Creative Director: Chris Vernon
Creatives: Rachel Miles, Michael Tsim
Production Company: Academy Films
Director: Sam Rice-Edwards
Co-director: Seb Edwards

DESIGN PRODUCER

LONDON/HYBRID

DESIGNER

LONDON