Dear BBC America: Would You Please Suck Less?

I’ve watched the BBCthe real BBC — for over 20 years. The ersatz “BBC America” that we get here in the United States has so little to do with the real BBC that I almost wish someone would file a false advertising lawsuit against it. On the off chance anyone from the real BBC care about the fake BBC you export to the the US, some thoughts on how there could be less suckage.

HD: Perhaps you’re aware that there’s this thing called high-definition television. It’s where the picture is crisp and sharp. I know that the BBC has it back in Britain. Would it be so hard to actually use it when you air things here? Why, oh why, does so much of what you show have to be in fuzzy SD? Are we not worthy of HD? Remember the Royal Wedding? We had to turn to American networks rather than you to see that properly. I don’t know why you aren’t doing this yet with DirecTV but fix it.

Less Doctor Who: I know Doctor Who is a big hit. But it seems like whenever I’m tuning it, that’s all your showing, unless….

Less Top Gear: I freaking love Top Gear. But seriously, you’re showing 7 hours of it today. Is there anything else made by the BBC other than Doctor Who and Top Gear?

Less “Insert Overplayed Show” Here: Today, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare gets 7 hours of airtime. Tomorrow there’s another 9 hours. It’s like an 8-Track tape that just keep restarting for this show and others. Do you actually have anyone thinking about programming? Or it is effectively shove in a DVD of some series and set it running?

Less Non-British Shows: Why are you showing X-Files? Yeah, I know Gillian Anderson lives in the UK now, but does any slight connection with Britain make something eligible for your channel? And Star Trek: The Next Generation? Patrick Stewart give you the qualifier there? Clash Of The Titans, the Harry Hamlin version? You’re killing me.

More British Shows You Don’t Show: You know, it’s not Christmas really if I can’t tune-in to see who’d going to die on EastEnders. OK, I’m more a Corrie person than EastEnders, and I haven’t watched either for years. But there’s no place for your long-running soap opera in your schedule? One Top Gear slot couldn’t be lost? And maybe you could air “Have I Got News For You” here? Because yes, even Americans would find that funny.

More British Shows You DO Show: Here’s what especially ticked me off today. You tweeted about Outcasts.

I caught the beginning of Outcasts when watching Come Fly With Me this weekend (thanks for finally getting that out to us, eventually). A little of the series came on after the end. Wow, Hermione Norris in a sci-fi flick? I’m there with no Cold Feet. But I want to see the first episode I missed. So when are you playing that again?

Flip flip flip through my program guide I go. Not forever. It’s days of Doctor Who Top Gear Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmare Law & Ordre UK Graham Norton until it finally gets a repeat airing tomorrow, the again on Friday. Two single solitary repeats.

Hey, I’m glad it’s being repeated, even if they are so few that the only way for me to spot them was to go online and examine your schedule. But why so much of so much else, over and over again?

Welsh Rugby: I cannot go through another year of my half-English, half-Welsh wife screaming at you for failing to bring 6 Nations matches that involve Wales into the US. Because when it comes to rugby, she’s all Welsh. And when you air English matches but not Welsh ones, she doesn’t care — nor do many other people care — that you haven’t somehow obtained the rights. They just see you and dissing Wales. So get the rights.

Listen, this is what you tell the world on in your FAQ:

BBC AMERICA is a digital cable and satellite channel dedicated to bringing audiences a new generation of award-winning television featuring razor-sharp comedies, provocative dramas, life changing makeovers and news with a uniquely global perspective. BBC AMERICA’s programming pushes the boundaries to deliver high quality, highly addictive and eminently watchable programming to viewers who demand more.

I’m sorry, endless repeats of Top Gear and Doctor Who isn’t pushing any boundaries. Showing the X-Files & Star Trek: The Next Generation just makes you Netflix with ads. I want to love you, BBC America, but I need a little more of the BBC for that to happen.


  1. Paul Forcey says

    I totally agree, as an expat I want to love BBC America but it just winds me up constantly seeing top gear (old ones at that usually) and Gordon Ramsey every day.

    You mention netflix with ads, I actually think Netflix may be better in a lot of ways..

    I dont care about HD I want better programs on there

  2. says

    You left out the biggest issue for a huge part of the country: The worst thing about BBC America is that Comcast doesn’t carry it in HD.

  3. says

    This has been driving me mad for years! So glad you’ve said everything that I was exactly thinking.

    BBC America DID used to be a lot better representation of the original BBC – I remember when it you to show Little Britain, Peep Show, that Web and Mitchell show, the Mighty Boosh…

    The problem is that it’s not actually owned by the BBC, but the name is licensed by the Discovery channel people…. (I think).

  4. says

    You’ve listed out a number of reasons why I finally unplugged my cable last year. I got sick of the constant reruns, poor quality programming – oh – and the constant malfunctioning of my DVR. The only thing really I missed this year was the Stanley Cup Playoffs; and, I could have gotten them via streaming on my PC if I’d have made the effort (and shelled out a little cash). I’d be willing to bet you could even find Welsh Rugby matches streaming somewhere.

  5. says

    To be honest, the quality of TV shows on BBC UK are quite poor, two of there best shows have been dropped (Waking the Dead and Zen). Also I’m not a massive soap fan either, so that’s two hospital programs out the loop and I can’t stand to watch 30 minutes worth or arguing and glum faces on EastEnders. Whilst they have some good documentaries and wildlife programs, the cut backs in terms TV spending is clear to see – so unfortunately your not missing much in my opinion.

  6. says

    I just finished the entire 9 seasons of Spooks on Netflix. I think I saw it once on BBCA. I completely agree with you Danny, I don’t know why they are showing 20 year old STNG and even older X-Files. Let’s get some new original programming.

  7. Tom Boucher says

    The lack of HD is your carriers fault, not BBCAm. They carry HD in many areas in the states.

    I’m not an expert on television programming but I believe a lot of the problems is that they’ve sold exclusive rights to some of their shows you’d like to see to other people in the states and have to wait for them to expire. Your example of Doctor Who was one that Sci-Fi now Syfy had when BBCAm first started appearing here in the states and they had to wait for that contract to expire before they could air it, and I for one am glad they air Doctor Who as much as they do :)

    I agree though after only visiting London area for a few trips there are a lot of programs that I wish would appear here. Maybe it’s because I’m starved for good programming but I’ve found the BBC shows to be much more intelligent, and much more engaging.

  8. Dan White says

    Hi Danny!
    Great post, I agree with pretty much everything you said. BBC America, now WGN with a Brit accent. Too sad! I miss some of the old stuff like Life on Mars, Faulty Towers, the travelogues of Michael Palin and yes, even Benny Hill.

  9. says

    My issue isn’t just the BBC here – it’s all of cable television. Virtually every network has become The Marathon Network – 10 hours a day of one show, day in and day out. It’s insane. There’s room on cable to air all sorts of wonderful shows that already exist, from classics (there’s no way to watch Looney Toons some days. LOONEY TOONS!) to current foreign shows. Instead, there’s four networks showing all-day marathons of crime lab dramas, six doing all-day marathons of cooking-oriented reality shows, and USA might as well change their tagline to “Law and Order Welcome.”

    If it were possible to get network television to come in properly where I am without cable, I’d likely cancel cable.

  10. Ken says

    Got to agree Danny. I’m Engerlish living with my Oregon wife on an Island North of Seattle. BBCA is know as the Gordon Ramsey Channel here. I just want to punch him in the face and I’m a peace lover.
    Tonight is second showing of Case Histories though and that tempers it a bit, except that Luther ended on Wednesday…..!

    How about the guy who does the BBCA introduction and that made up over the top accent…and I’m from Liverpool.

    BBC has the best…and the worst of British TV.

    Phew, thanks for letting me vent…!!!! :>)

  11. Sue says

    I agree with the above comments, I am so sick of Gordan Ramsey and Top Gear. What happened to BBC! They are running seemingly endless hours of T.G. and R.K, this gets old fast!! Mix it up a little!!! How about more Tudors, Luther, Being Human, The Fades, etc….I would much rather see these in marathon runs!! Hope someone out there is listening, thanks for letting me vent:-)

  12. Les says

    After living here for 10 years I get so frustrated with this channel. BBC America my ar$e…………it is a pathetic representation of the great programmes that have been made over the years. Top Gear – how many repeats ( today we have endless repeats of this show from 2003 !!!! ).Lets drop the station if we cannot show its true colours – or please lets have some respect for what BBC stands for.

  13. Dan says

    So sad that a year after this was written, nothing has changed. Out of 168 hours of television a week to fill, maybe a dozen is brand-new content to US viewers? And that counts the hour (just an hour) of news weekday mornings! And Graham Norton and Katy Brand’s shows air after 11pm on Saturdays! I remember when they actually made an effort to be a water cooler network, and for a brief moment, actually succeeded.