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The BFI has announced their 100 BBC Television Game Changers.


The BFI has announced their 100 BBC Television Game Changers.

The 100 BBC Television Game Changers is the BFI’s curated list of the innovative BBC TV programmes that have had a significant impact on television and society.

The programme selections are to mark 100 years since the BBC began broadcasting, initially as a radio service in 1933 before the Beeb launched a regular television service in 1936. To coincide with the BBC’s centenary in 2022, the list celebrates the shows that have made and remade genres, shaped social attitudes and transformed television itself, demonstrating that the BBC has been a constant pioneer from its inception to the present day.

Lisa Kerrigan, BFI Senior Curator of Television:

“The programmes on our list had gamechanging impacts on television itself, while also highlighting the ways in which BBC TV has changed us as a nation and beyond. The list was developed by contributors from across the BFI, and shaped by a core group of BFI TV curators and programmers, and it reflects the astounding history, variety and achievement of BBC television. It was a difficult task to select just 100 Gamechangers and we fiercely debated the importance of each title. There are many more that we could have included, and we welcome those inevitable discussions, which are testament to the monumental contribution that the BBC has made to British television, and our lives, over the decades.”

There will also be a season of screenings and special events celebrating programmes in the Gamechangers list at BFI Southbank in October and November 2022, a special event in the forthcoming BFI & Radio Times Television Festival, and a selection of the programmes in the list will also be screened on BBC4 throughout the rest of 2022.

The 100 game changing programmes include seminal soap opera EastEnders, Dennis Potter’s Pennies From Heaven, which helped revolutionise the creative possibilities of TV drama, and those dramas that merit ‘instant gamechanger’ status including I May Destroy You. Boundary-pushing comedies and satirical programmes whose influence can be felt on the airwaves today, such as That Was The Week That Was.

The broadcaster’s non-fiction and current affairs programmes have documented some of the defining moments of the last century, perhaps none more-so than The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, while the BBC Natural History Unit and Sir David Attenborough became a global phenomenon with Life On Earth, and have continued to captivate audiences ever since. Beloved and long-lasting children’s TV like Blue Peter and Play School are also included, as are more recent innovative programmes for young people, such as Horrible Histories. As the original UK public service broadcaster, the BBC has upheld the core principles of “inform, educate, entertain” remarkably well; the latter of these principles, to entertain, is exemplified on the BFI’s list by stalwarts of the airwaves such as Strictly Come Dancing.

The BFI Game Changers list does not always feature the most popular or famous examples from a genre, but seeks to foreground the work that acted as catalysts, inspired others, altered perceptions or broke new ground.

The list highlights the vital BBC programming made by and about underrepresented communities, recognising and celebrating those who overcame longstanding barriers to bring their stories and voices to the screen. Although these programmes may have resonated with audiences, their successes did not always immediately lead to the creation of more content that was truly representative of UK audiences, however, many are now recognised as important landmarks in their representation of marginalised communities.

With today’s global audience’s growing appetite for high-end television, now is a perfect moment to gauge how the BBC has helped shape the nature of the medium both in the UK and beyond.

James Stirling, BBC 100 Executive Editor:

“The BFI’s expert team of curators have produced a fascinating list of BBC TV programmes that have transformed broadcasting over the last 100 years, both across the UK and around the world. BBC Four will delve into the BBC’s library of rich content to share a selection of the boundary-pushing and era-defining dramas from the BFI’s list with audiences throughout centenary year with a new Wednesday night slot.”

As custodians of the nation’s screen heritage, television culture has been at the heart of the BFI’s mission for decades. The BFI’s team of television curators and programmers, responsible for caring for television heritage and making it accessible to audiences through the BFI’s platforms, are uniquely placed to cast an analytical eye over the BBC’s television history and highlight these 100 titles to mark the Corporation’s century of broadcasting.

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