If you live in the UK, and you’re a movie buff, then at some point in your life you will have watched the BBC’s flagship review show, ‘Film’. The series – that was fronted by British movie critic, Barry Norman for decades – was a staple of the schedules, providing film fans with all the latest reviews and news.
But if you’ve not caught an episode in quite some time, it’s not because you’ve been busy, it’s because the BBC’s ‘Film’ is no longer on the air. It last cropped up in the schedules in 2018, then left TV screens forever.
So, what happened?
The demise of ‘Film’
In short, ‘Film’ was cancelled. The BBC announced the programme’s cancellation in late December 2018. It is entirely possible you missed the announcement, because it arrived with little fanfare, and during that period of the year where everyone is drunk and no one knows what day it is.*
*This is a reference to Christmas, not a lockdown caused by a global pandemic.
As for the reason for ‘Film’s’ cancellation? A decline in ratings and a general change in the way viewers consumed movies (and movie reviews).
When ‘Film’ began, back in 1971, television was a great way to keep up with the latest film news and reviews. But by 2018, the Internet changed all that and reviews could be found online at the click of a button, on blogs, on YouTube, or via podcasts.
Despite its popularity (and longevity), there simply wasn’t a place in the TV schedules for ‘Film’, and the Beeb gave it the chop. In its place, the station promised to re-focus its film output via other avenues.
Speaking about the changes in December 2018, a spokesperson for the BBC, said: “In 2019, we will be creating an enhanced offer for lovers of film both on television and online which will be a more consistent approach across the year.”
Arguably the most upsetting thing about ‘Film’s’ demise was the way the BBC simply let it fade away, without a big send off. It left screens and simply never came back.
I’m pretty confident there are a number of viewers out there who are still scanning copies of the Radio Times, trying to find out where ‘Film’ is. If only someone would point them in the direction of this blog, so that I can break the news they are a few years too late.
‘Film’ in focus
‘Film’ might have died a death a while back now, but we still have our memories. And for anyone whose memory isn’t quite so sharp these days, here’s a few key points about the show:
- The first episode of ‘Film’ was broadcast on 16th November 1971.
- During its initial run, ‘Film’ was fronted by multiple presenters, including most notably, Barry Norman.
- Barry Norman became ‘Film’s’ regular host from 1972. He also became the show’s longest running host, staying with ‘Film’ until 1998.
- Jonathan Ross took over as host of ‘Film’ from 1999 until 2010.
- Claudia Winkleman became the host of ‘Film’ in 2010, with Danny Leigh joining as the show’s resident critic. Winkleman stayed on ‘Film’ until 2016 and Leigh remained with the show until 2017.
- Following Winkleman’s departure in 2016, various broadcasters hosted ‘Film’ during its final two years.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post about the BBC’s ‘Film’ show. For more movie-related posts, check out the recommended reads below, or take a look around It’s A Stampede!
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