The upcoming government White Paper is set to include proposals that will expand the remit of public service broadcasters to include a requirement to be “distinctively British”.

In the throes of the current cabinet reshuffle, the RTS Cambridge Convention heard from media minister John Whittingdale, in lieu of deposed Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. In a further twist, Whittingdale himself has announced that he is stepping down from his post this morning.

With reference to the potential change in the PSB remit, Whittingdale said: “If it’s set in Britain and made in Britain by our public service broadcasters, then it should be distinctively British.”

Whilst conceding that Britishness is “ a nebulous concept”, he then went on to give it some definition. “I’m talking about continuing to make the programmes that are ours, and only ours; that could only have been made in the United Kingdom. Take Derry Girls. A show that addresses the Troubles; and the rise and fall of Take That with equal passion. It could only have been made here. “Likewise, what other country in the world would have come up with a concept as bonkers but brilliant as Gogglebox? Fleabag isn’t Fleabag without its British sarcasm and self-deprecation. And the last episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, when the squadron goes over the top, would never have been as poignant without that classically British dash of restraint.”

Pippa Considine

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