Letter: One nation in front of the TV

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The Independent Online
Sir: Jeffrey Richards asserts ("BBC's voice of two nations", 13 March) that the success of two apparently different BBC dramas, the gritty Our Friends in the North and the romantic Pride and Prejudice points to a country with polarised tastes and attitudes. He looks back to the Fifties and a Reithian BBC which "cemented the nation with a unitary voice".

It is not far-fetched to maintain that a broadcasting monopoly could happily bond a class-ridden society made up of avaricious consumers, jealous trade unionists and angry teddy-boys? The Fifties reality, of course, was an unhappy compromise of viewers completely unspoilt for choice and sitting around what were often BBC-only television sets watching programmes of little interest.

Were the audience profiles for Our Friends and Pride and Prejudice that different? Both were historical dramas; one began with sex and the promise of more to come, the other captivated viewers with the eventuality of sex. I suggest that far more viewers than Professor Richards might imagine were riveted to both.

George Fisher

Broughton, Cumbria

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