Save our BBC!

Comedians lead protest

Peter Kay, Eddie Izzard and David Mitchell are among the comics to have joined a campaign to publicly oppose Conservative attacks on the BBC.

They are among 48 celebrity signatories to a letter accusing the Tories of 'attacking the BBC to serve the interests of its commercial rivals' – a thinly veiled reference to Sky owner Rupert Murdoch, a long-time critic of the corporation.

The list includes well-known left-wingers such as Jo Brand, Harry Enfield and Izzard – who has fronted a Labour election broadcast – as well as less political comedians such as Catherine Tate, Terry Jones, Robert Webb and Stephen Merchant.

In their letter, published in the Observer, they claim the Conservative policy to downsize the BBC 'threatens to devalue not just the BBC itself, but our culture as a whole'.

It reads: 'Ahead of the upcoming election, we wanted to raise our concerns about the BBC's future...

;Over the past few months, leading opposition politicians have suggested that a new government should prioritise cutting the BBC's licence fee. Others have shown a cavalier attitude towards the BBC's independence, calling, for example, for the BBC to sell off Radio 1, to roll back its online activities, and to get rid of the BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust.

'Let's not take the BBC for granted. It is the most important cultural organisation in Britain and an indispensable part of our society, admired and envied throughout the world.

'It is, of course, right that there is a national debate about the future of the BBC. But attacking the BBC to serve the interests of its commercial rivals would be short-sighted and threatens to devalue not just the BBC itself, but our culture as a whole.

'We urge voters to think about the consequences of their vote for this cherished part of our national life when they vote on May 6.'

Other signatories include Sanjeev Bhaskar, Simon Fanshawe, Charlie Higson, Steve Pemberton, Jan Ravens, Meera Syal, Rhys Thomas and Arabella Weir.

Published: 24 Apr 2010

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