In a press release dated 6 July 2011, the BBC announced: “From November, the short stories (currently running at 3.30pm, Tuesday-Thursday) will be rescheduled with some broadcast at 3.45pm on Friday and some at 7.45pm on Sunday. From next spring, the number of short stories will be reduced from three to one a week on Radio 4.”
I’m very grateful to Susie Maguire for bringing it to my attention – read her excellent guest post on the subject on Stella Duffy’s blog.
In spite of other significant news yesterday, Twitter’s had a lot to say on the subject - just check out the #R4ShortStoryCuts hashtag.
And see what industry-related organizations are saying on their blogs:
Writers Guild General Secretary, Bernie Corbett: "Here is yet another meaningless cut that will save Radio 4 in a whole year less than the cost of a single coat of paint on the shiny floor of a TV talent show."
Society of Authors: “Short stories, with the use of the single voice, provide an opportunity to create great moments of drama and intimacy for the listener.”
British Actors Equity: “The move is also likely to cause uproar amongst Radio 4's loyal listenership, especially as the BBC made the announcement that it was cutting short stories on Radio 4 while at the same time promoting National Short Story Week, an annual event which aims to focus the attentions of the public and the media on the short story and short story writers, publishers and events.”
National Short Story Week: “As our national public service broadcaster we look to the BBC to continue its unparalleled commitment to the short story, and to writers, readers and listeners of short stories.”
Most of these tweeters and bloggers have voiced their objections far more eloquently than I ever could – but as an actress who has been a regular narrator on the BBC, I’m saddened by the news of a reduction in the number of slots for this fantastic story-telling form that is perfect for radio.
If you care, please join the protest. You can sign the petition that has already been signed by writers like Ian Rankin (who tweets that his career got a vital boost when the BBC took two of his short stories), Hilary Mantel, Michael Holroyd, Philip Pullman, Morag Joss, Katie Fforde, Sara Maitland and many, many others. (The petition invites you to donate when you’ve signed, but you don’t have to. Just leave the page. Your signature will still be counted.)
Additionally, you can email your comments via Feedback at BBC Radio 4, or send them directly to Gwyneth Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org