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article imageBBC4 follows 10th anniversary with first drama series commission

By Mathew Wace Peck     Mar 5, 2012 in Entertainment
On Friday, BBC 4 celebrated ten years of broadcasting with an evening dedicated to disco. Tonight, in a first for the public-service station, it begins airing its first own-commission drama series.
The evening for the BBC 4 birthday celebrations included the programmes The Joy of Disco and Queens of Disco, which highlighted performers such as Gloria Gaynor (“I Will Survive”), Madonna (“Like A Virgin”), Donna Summer (“Love To Love You Baby”) and Sylvester (“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)”).
Tonight’s series, Dirk Gently, is based on the wholistic detective of the same name created by the late Douglas Adams, of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Doctor Who fame. The TV adaptation has been written by Howard Overman (Misfits) and follows his successful 2010 pilot episode.
The character first appeared in the Adams-penned novels the books Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul.
Over the last decade, BBC 4 has built up a solid reputation for spotlighting a diverse selection quality programming, including, documentaries, foreign-language film and drama, repeat-showings from the BBC’s vast archive and one-off British biographical dramas.
BBC 4 enjoys the highest audience-appreciation figures of any of the Corporation’s channels and attracts 9.8 million viewers a week.
Programming cuts
Dirk Gently is the first drama series to be commissioned specifically by the station. However, such further programming from the channel has been put into doubt following the British Conservative government’s cuts to the BBC.
According to the Guardian, “Original drama [will be] the biggest victim of the impending squeeze, thought to amount to 30% of the channel’s budget.”
Previously, fictionalised biographies of people such as Enid Blyton, Margot Fonteyn and Hattie Jacques, and of Tony Hancock, Kenneth Williams and Eric Morecambe, have been well received by critics and the public alike. In 2010, the channel broadcast the story of the birth of the UK’s oldest-running soap opera – ITV's Coronation StreetThe Road to Coronation Street, which went on to win a number of awards.
BBC 4 has also scored well by introducing British audiences to foreign and foreign-language dramas such as, from Australia, The Slap, and, from Denmark, Forbrydelsen (or The Killing) and Borgen.
A petition to save BBC 4 from the proposed cuts states: “No television channel better represents the objectives of the BBC to educate, entertain and inform than BBC Four and no BBC television channel represents a better fit with the BBC Trust’s motto ‘Putting Quality First’.” It can be signed at the Petition Buzz website.
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