Steve Coogan Supports $155 Million Bid for BBC’s Youth Network
In a letter mentioning the comedian, U.K. producers renew their push to buy BBC Three despite the public broadcaster's focus on moving the channel online.
BBC TV boss Danny Cohen may have thought his detailed public dismissal last week of a $155 million bid for the U.K. public broadcaster’s BBC Three channel — due to move online as part of budget cuts — was the final say regarding the matter.
But Steve Coogan has now reportedly weighed in, offering his support for the deal first proposed by U.K. producers Avalon and Hat Trick in January.
In another letter to Cohen by Avalon and Hat Trick bosses Jimmy Mulville and Jon Thoday — excerpts of which were published in The Guardian — the two have renewed their attempts to keep BBC Three on linear TV, highlighting Coogan's backing.
"We are pleased to report that Steve Coogan and Henry Normal, whose company Baby Cow produced Gavin and Stacy and The Mighty Boosh — two of BBC3’s biggest hits — have agreed to support the project," the letter states. Baby Cow on Wednesday appeared to confirm the content of the letter by tweeting the story from the company's official account.
Responding to some of the objections laid out by Cohen, the letter argues that a rebranded BBC Three would offer a "much better use of the spectrum than the BBC1+1 catch-up channel which BBC management is currently proposing," and that independent producers would "welcome the opportunity to continue to provide programming for a linear television channel rather than see their work struggle for viewers on a much-diminished online platform."
It also added that one of the BBC’s commercial channels, its part-owned UKTV G2, had been successfully rebranded to Dave in 2007. "We have not found anyone who can remember what it was called prior to this," the letter said.
"We realize that you completely disagree with our position and have made it clear that BBC3 has little value and is not for sale. However, we consider this issue to be so important that we are not going to give up," it added.
A spokesman confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that the letter was genuine and that Thoday and Mulville had also challenged Cohen and BBC director general Tony Hall to a debate the future of BBC Three.
THR has reached out to Coogan’s company Baby Cow, but hasn't received a response.