Tag Archives: cancellation

How to protest the Outcasts cancellation

Some insight from readers, some my own digging in response to the upset around Outcasts non-renewal/cancellation (is there a difference?)… I’m really not sure that doing any of this will make any difference, but it’ll give you an opportunity to vent. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions in the comments.

1. Use the complaints form from the BBC – found here. Not sure this’ll get you anywhere as they now apparently have a stock response:

Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘Outcasts’ on BBC One.

I understand you’re unhappy with the cancellation of the series.

We regularly have to make difficult decisions and unfortunately sometimes they will prove to be unpopular with some viewers. In spite of a great cast and production team, ‘Outcasts’ did not find its audience in the way that we had hoped. We remain proud of it but it will not be returning for another series. We can only apologise for any disappointment caused by our decision.

2. Join the Facebook protest. I don’t know if this is being monitored or actively campaigned with but there’s 1,500 people on there at the moment so at the least you’ll find like-minded people.

3. Write to the commissioning editors (all their assistants’ contact details are on the web) or Kudos. Not sure anyone at Kudos can do anything or if you’ll get a response. My brother knows the CEO of Kudos and received a brief email from him expressing some sadness at the cancellation, so not sure they’re in a position to do much (my bro flagged the comments here to Kudos, so they at least have read them if not the BBC folk…)

4. Set up an online petition, get loads of support, and then do (3) above.

5. Suggest that Sky take it up by submitting it as an idea. Not sure how complex the rights issues are.

6. Get in touch with Ben Richards and ask him to write a book to finish the story. He’s on Twitter, but not sure if that would work unless you also happen to be a publisher who wants to offer him a lucrative deal to do the job.

Me? Well, I’m going to finish watching the series (I know, how can I be taking so long? Well, being a dad is time-consuming!) and if I feel suitably inspired I’ll post my suggestions for how the series would resolve here to help assuage the frustration of being left high and dry with the season finale. After all, my dream is still to be a SFF author someday!

Right, normal blogging service will resume now. More on soup, gardening, dadhood, technology, and the like, less on Outcasts… Please keep discussing in the comments and I’ll chip in if I discover/find out anything!

Why do ratings matter for the BBC?

A lot of the protest around the Outcasts cancellation I’ve read in the comments has been around the ratings question. As a public service broadcaster, why do ratings matter?

Put simply, ratings are a way of the BBC verifying that it is spending the license fee in the viewers’ interests. If it is committing a large spend to a TV programme, it needs to be sure that it is proportionate to the interest in the show. Bearing in mind that an hour of even a simple soap opera can cost in excess of £100k, and these, rightly or wrongly, receive millions and millions of viewers, the higher cost of creating a Sci-Fi drama series presumably proportionate support (although obviously it’s not as simple as “as many viewers as Eastenders” or it’d never get made). In addition, although this is a secondary concern, a highly rated programme can be a source of revenue for the BBC via BBC Worldwide (which made £1bn last year, pittance against the operating costs of the BBC but not too shabby).

There’s more on this question on Quora for interested people.

However, I think the BBC has ignored the long tail a bit with Outcasts. If you look at my exchange with an independent TV producer on Quora here you’ll see that iPlayer ratings do indeed count – independent production companies are remunerated in part on performance there – but it looks like the decision to cancel Outcasts was taken before iPlayer data came into play. This is presumably because the viewer numbers were far too low for a mid-week prime-time programme, irrespective of iPlayer views, but without access to the iPlayer viewer numbers its difficult to know if they’ve been properly thoughtful about this.

Incidentally, I wrote to both the BBC and show producers Kudos TV to put some commenter questions to them. Sadly, the BBC has ignored me (presumably because I am not a journalist) and Kudos sent me an ironic individual reply saying they wouldn’t reply to emails individually.