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Save BBC3: Jack Whitehall and Greg James among celebrities campaigning to save channel

The comedy and drama channel will soon only be available to watch online

Jack Whitehall, Matt Lucas, Greg James and Richard Bacon are among a host of celebrities campaigning to save BBC Three.

The BBC plans to make the TV station available through iPlayer only in an effort to "find an extra £100m of savings" after funding cuts, according to director general Tony Hall.

Stars have responded on social media with the hashtag #saveBBC3 in a reaction similar to that surrounding the rumoured closure of 6Music.

"BBC3 makes lots of great, clever, distinct programmes," BBC 5Live presenter Bacon tweeted. "If the rumours of it being cut are true, we might need to retool that 6Music campaign."

Whitehall, whose Bad Education is shown on the channel, also contributed to the battle: "I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours," he wrote. "Their support of new comedy in particular is vital!"

In another message, the comedian added: " Little Britain, Gavin & Stacey, Torchwood, Being Human, Mighty Boosh, Pramface, Ideal – BBC3 is the home of new comedy and drama."

Jack Whitehall in 'Bad Education'

James, a Radio 1 DJ, described the news as "such a load of balls". "Genuinely brilliant new comedy and live music needs that platform," he wrote.

Comedian Russell Kane also edged in on the debate with an angry Twitter message:

But Hall has stood by the necessity to take "hard decisions". "Drama is one of the essences of the BBC and I want to make sure we are properly funded in that area," he said.

The official BBC Three Twitter account posted a message in response to the #SaveBBC3 hashtag:"Who knew people love BBC Three more than pancakes?! Feeling loved."

Then, of course, viewers have been responding in their droves: