Great LezBritain: Proud of the BBC in a very lesbi way

“Great LezBritian” is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.

Over the last couple of weeks our beloved BBC has been taking a bit of a kicking from various quarters. 

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Culture, has already indecently axed the British Film Council, which funded many of our great films including lesbian favourite, Bend it like Beckham. With that done, Jezza began making utterances that our grand ole broadcasting house will also have to tighten its belt because the license fee which funds it could be thinned out.

Bend It Like Beckham

In the shadows of this news, we caught a glimpse of Rupert Murdoch getting his back scratched as a reward for the endless propagandist headlines his papers ran in support of the Tory Party’s election campaign. The BBC having its fee cut would provide scope for commercial stations to compete harder for viewer share and Mr Murdoch’s sky odyssey would be sure to benefit. With less money, the BBC would be forced to shrink its service and this would be objectionable because it would inevitably have to focus its appeal in a more mainstream way. Under such circumstances, we might never have gotten wonderful programmes like The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, the groundbreaking This Life, or comedy like Pulling.  

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

The prospect of having broadcasting dictated by advertising revenue gives us a little cold shiver right to our nethers.We have seen Fox and it is terrifying.

Furthermore, lesbian, gay and bisexual charity Stonewall conducted a survey recently looking at the representation of gay people on the 20 programmes watched most frequently by young people across our five terrestrial channels. The BBC was handed the wooden spoon for transmitting just 44 seconds of “positive and realistic portrayal of gay people” in the 39 hours of output studied.

The threat of these austerity measures and the results of this survey provided us with the stimulus to discuss exactly why we treasure our dear old BBC, especially if it doesn’t seem to treasure us.  

Being able to rely on a national broadcaster which trumpets out unfettered impartiality should not be taken for granted and indeed this was the message from a large section of the British Twitterati when they managed to get the hashtag #proudofthebbc trending last week. 

From our perspective — as keen lesbians — we would go further and admit that despite the Stonewall study we are #proudofthebbcinaverylesbiway

We would argue that the sample of programmes surveyed by Stonewall do not present the full picture. For example, we find it unsurprising that there weren’t many gays and lesbians offering their opinion on the offside rule in the Football Focus studio, but we would blame that on British football being male-dominated and homophobic, not on the BBC. In fact, BBC Three covered FIFA’s Women’s World Cup in 2007 and if these programmes were to be analysed for positive lesbian presence then we are confident that it would do very well indeed.  

Furthermore, how exactly do you judge if something is a “positive representation”? One of the shows considered “‘positive” was Channel 4’s How To Look Good Naked, largely due to openly gay presenter Gok Wan. Gok’s way of coaxing ladies to get “in the necessary” and loving their bodies polarises our male gay friends, with equal numbers finding him too “stereotypical” and others citing him as “a good one for the team.”

Gok Wan

In our opinion, the BBC has always produced the best lesbian specific programming of all channels — certainly not enough of it, but still far and away more than any other channel on an international scale. Plus Lip Service is to be aired this autumn and since we’ve now had a sneaky peek at the first episode we can divulge that it is rather funny, certainly sexy and somewhat clever — another feather in the BBC’s lesbian cap.

We also conducted a little poll of our own Twitter lovelies to ask which lesbian specific programming they could think of, and apart from Channel 4’s Sugar Rush, every other choice had been made by, funded by or at least shown by the BBC.