U.K. public service broadcasters the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 have come together to make a joint commercial, promoting the power of free-to-air TV to bring the nation together at a time of crisis.
The two minute film, by agency Uncommon, aired across British TV last night in a roadblock takeover. Directed by Sam Walker at Pulse Films, takes us on a road trip across the U.K., as we see farmers’ fields, Cornish coastlines, factory floors, London estates, the Angel of the North sculpture and the Royal Academy gallery. In every shot, flat screens and tablets air clips from popular TV shows from all the broadcasters; including the BBC’s Blue Planet II, Fleabag and Normal People; ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent, Coronation Street and ITV News; Channel 4’s Paralympics, Great British Bake Off and Gogglebox and Channel 5’s The Yorkshire Vet and New Lives in the Wild with Ben Fogle. It ends with the words “This is the story of everything we’ve done. And everything we could be. This is us. This is who we are. Our stories are your stories.”
The campaign comes at a time when public service broadcasters face fierce competition from pay TV and streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+. However, they have also been in the spotlight for their value to the U.K. population during the pandemic, particularly with news coverage.
“British free to air television --commissioned from the U.K. and produced in the U.K. -- is here for everyone," said Tony Hall, BBC Director General, in a statement. "We bring people together for the big moments - from a royal wedding to the World Cup. We are there at times of crisis and to provide comfort, laughter, education and entertainment. We do something special for the UK and provide authentic British programs that our rivals simply don’t offer.”
“British TV reflects and shapes our culture and who we are," added Nils Leonard, co-founder at Uncommon. "Our debates, our conversations, our communities and our characters are all reflected in the stories we watch every day. These are our stories. British TV matters – now more than ever. This cultural moment is the kind of brief we built the studio to make."