Letter: Theatre is blooming, but television could lend a hand

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Lister's article (14 December) is thoughtful and ought to provoke positive debate in this country. If he is correct in his argument that the theatre is in danger of losing its popularity, particularly among young people, then we cannot wait for a change of cultural fashion for theatre to be restored to its proper place.

His idea that television could play an important role for theatre, similar to Film '93, is interesting and should be the subject of wider discussion in the industry. Mr Lister's reason for there being no theatre equivalent to Film '93 is wrong however. Pay rates, premium rates and conditions of service are by no means prohibitive. It adds nothing to the central argument for him to charge that 'theatre cuts its own throat]' based on such inaccurate evidence.

The Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (Bectu), which represents all theatre staff in Britain, has agreements with the employers allowing for television crews to shoot pictures for various purposes. Those agreements were entered into voluntarily by both sides. They do not contain prohibitive terms. Bectu cannot accept criticism, implied or expressed, that it is somehow responsible for preventing television entry.

Yours faithfully,


National Official


London, W1

(Photograph omitted)