Government plans legal requirements for “distinctively British” TV shows

"I want to ensure British broadcasters get the exposure they deserve"

Legal requirements are being put in place by government ministers to ensure that broadcasters release shows that are “clearly British.”

Former media minister John Whittingdale, who was recently sacked amidst a cabinet reshuffle, outlined the actions during his keynote speech to the Royal Television Society Cambridge Convention 2021.

This will include plans to expand the types of programmes the nation’s PSBs (Public Service Broadcasters) are required to produce and air to include “distinctively British” content.


Whittingdale cited Only Fools and HorsesFleabagDerry Girls and Doctor Who as key examples of such content that has simultaneously managed to secure international success.

“Global investment is extremely welcome, but I want to make sure it doesn’t water down British creativity or the British brand,” he said in his speech.

‘Derry Girls’. CREDIT: TCD/Prod.DB / Alamy Stock Photo

He added: “Public service broadcasters have a unique role and I want them to continue producing shows that allow people in every corner of the UK to see their lives reflected on screen, and that showcase the things we are most proud of to the rest of the world. To make programmes that are iconic, not generic.”

Whittingdale admitted that Britishness is a “a difficult concept to measure”, and confirmed that regulatory board Ofcom would lay out the definition for broadcasters to adhere to moving forward.

The former minister has come under fire following the speech on account of his citation of Derry Girls, a show set in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.


Derry Girls is a distinctly Irish show,” a viewer tweeted. “The Brits trying to claim it as their own really show how clueless they are. It’s not called “Londonderry Girls” now is it??”

Further details of the guidelines will be included in the White Paper later in 2021.

“I want to ensure British broadcasters get the exposure they deserve – no matter how their content is consumed,” said Whittingdale.

“Public service broadcasters have been part of our national life for almost a century, and are uniquely placed to reflect our values. It’s incredibly important that they keep their place at the heart of television.”


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