Lenny Henry Criticizes TV Streamers’ Commissioning Tactics | television broadcast
Sir Lenny Henry criticized the way streaming services commission content, saying, “They want to know if it’s going to sell before they think it’s going to be any good.”
The comedian, present for almost 50 years on television screens, thinks that the BBC has a better approach to commissioning. He said the broadcaster (“Thank goodness!”) listens to the story that’s presented and says, “We think it’s going to be a pretty interesting story to tell: you should tell that story.”
He asked the audience to there is a party in Wales: “How many things have you watched on BBC TV and thought, ‘Well, that was a tough listen. But I’m glad I watched it?’
The Comic Relief co-founder was speaking at a panel to discuss the film adaptation of Kit de Waal’s My Name is Leon, which Henry Douglas Road’s company is producing – and in which Henry has a small starring role. actor. When event chairman Sarfraz Manzoor asked if My Name is Leon felt like “that’s what the BBC is for”, Henry and fellow panelist, Monica Dolan – who stars in the film, immediately replied: “Yes”
The film, which will air on BBC Two in June, tells De Waal’s story of a mixed-race boy who is separated from his white baby brother when their mother is no longer able to care for them.
It took about six years to make, said Henry, who pitched the idea for an adaptation after narrating the My Name is Leon audiobook. The panel praised how the BBC had stuck with the project, despite being delayed by the pandemic.
Henry stressed how important it was that the BBC agreed to a film adaptation rather than a series. “A lot of writers write one thing, and have a story to tell,” he said. But, he added, when you bring ideas to distributors, many of them will ask, “Why isn’t it 13 episodes?”
The 63-year-old slammed streaming services such as netflix and Amazon Prime, saying they haven’t trained enough new writers. This is especially true, he said, of writers of color, who often get only one chance to prove themselves, without getting the support they need to grow.
Henry referenced the BBC Writers room as an example of how to develop talent more effectively, but said theaters have been particularly successful in this type of development work. “Streamers could learn a thing or two from acting,” he said. When Henry started writing for the theater a few years ago, he “sat in a room with a passing playwright [his] page-by-page script,” he said. “And that’s kind of what has to happen with these new writers.”
While Douglas Road has never produced anything for a streaming service, Henry has acting roles in two upcoming shows, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and The Witcher: Blood Origin, from Amazon Prime and Netflix respectively.
But that’s his job with the BBC – Comic Relief, The Lenny Henry Show, Chef! — which Henry is best known for, and he’s clearly proud of it. However, he criticized cuts that have been announced recently, including the decision to make CBBC online-only. “I think it’s a mistake,” the comedian said. “Where are the children going to see each other? he asked, emphasizing the importance of diverse representation on children’s television.
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