'Harry Potter' Star Matthew Lewis Criticizes BBC Plans to Move Youth Network Online

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 - Movie Still: Matthew Lewis as Neville Longbottom - H - 2011
Jaap Buitendijk/Warner Brothers

"I’m dead against it, it’s a real shame," says the actor who played Neville Longbotttom.

Matthew Lewis, who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, has criticized the BBC's plans to make youth-centric TV network BBC Three into an online-only service.

"I’m dead against it, it’s a real shame," the actor, who has a role on BBC Three Afghanistan bomb squad dramedy Bluestone 42, told RadioTimes.com. "I’d be very sad to see BBC Three go that way."

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Explained Lewis: "I don’t think there’s enough television now for young people in general, and I just feel like there’s certain series that BBC Three take a gamble on and a risk on – it doesn’t always pay off, but every now and then they come up with a show that is unique and people fall in love with." He added: "Where are those next gambles, where are those next risks going to be taken?"

Bluestone 42, which is set to return for a third season next month, may never have been made without BBC Three, Lewis argued. "I can’t think of many other channels that might have taken a punt on a comedy show on Afghanistan," he said. "I just think it’s so topical and a story that’s got to be told."

Concluded the actor: "I genuinely think that BBC Three is something that we should not be letting go. There’s so much, such good quality on there, and the young undiscovered talent that’s on there is full to the brim. And I just worry where we’re going to find the next batch of talent if we don’t have something like that available."

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The BBC last year said it would shutter BBC Three as a linear network and move its shows online amid the need for cost savings. A public consultation period on the move ends this week. The BBC Trust, the U.K. public broadcaster's governing body, will then announce its initial conclusions and start a process for a second consultation period.

Email: Georg.Szalai@THR.com
Twitter: @georgszalai