Alex Massie

The BBC Tries to Catch-Up with its Audience

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Apparently the BBC is finally going to show The Wire. Hurrah. Previously it's only been available on FX in Britain. Well that's all fine and dandy. But it's not as though the series was a mystery. It debuted in 2002 and has received rave reviews form critics for at least the last three years. And yet no BBC (or Channel 4) executive thought to buy it before now? Strange.

Rum too that the corporation should wait for much of its target audience to have already seen the show before deciding to screen it themselves. Just about anyone who has purchased the DVD box sets (all five series currently lie in the top 12 box set chart at Amazon.co.uk) is likely to have lent them to someone else who will in turn have introduced yet more people to the show. I think my DVDs of the first three series are currently somewhere near Inverness, travelling the country just as the IBS sends Valchek's van on its merry trip around the world in Series Two...

So it's good that the BBC is catching up with its audience but a shame that it needs to. One rather suspects that the BBC decided that The Wire might be too difficult for its audience. Not for the first time - if that's the case - it was guilty of under-estimating the public. That's something the corporation might consider next time it considers its scheduling.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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