Twiddling Thumbs

Being a radio indie has its moments of madness, generally twice a year when all the BBC radio networks run their commissioning rounds at the same time (I know, madness!).  But once those months are over, we hit these times of thumb twiddling.  Don’t get me wrong, as a company Ladbroke Productions is churning out the hits, several progs for Radio 2, a series and a one off for R4, and we are in a commissioning round for Radio 3.  But in terms of waiting on results of the other comm rounds, we just have to sit and wait…it is agony, as the results point towards what kind of year ahead we are going to have, whether we will stay in business or not, and whether we will make a profit or a loss!

It is one of the difficulties working with the BBC who, no matter how hard they try (and some of them do try very hard) they just don’t understand what being a commercial business is all about.  So on the one hand they push our industry for ideas with mammoth amounts of unpaid for development up front, with very little time before the deadlines…and then they take months to make their decisions, not really getting just how vital the results are to the businesses and lives of those in the indie world.

However, the BBC are to be praised for their continuing use of radio indies, since they are not required to use us at all.  Even though there are times when we all think no-one at the BBC wants us around, the reality is that they come to our sector and seek out the best new ideas and talent, and pay us to make the programmes…it’s a fairly simple deal, but one no-one else in the publicly funded content and broadcast world offers.

So the twiddling thumbs thing is a nightmare…but thank you BBC for at least giving us the chance to twiddle our thumbs…it is very much appreciated 🙂


About hokusbloke
30-something radio producer/director/writer, owner & MD of Ladbroke Productions (the UK's oldest independent radio production company). Lover of far fetched fiction, scifi and fantasy, my cats and all thinks tech. I am also the Chair of the Radio Independents Group, a former Trustee of the Radio Academy, and a Fellow of the RSA. I co-wrote, produced and directed Robert Rankin's "The Brightonomicon" audio series, produce Dr Who audiobooks for the BBC, and directed several sci-fi radio plays for BBC Radio 4 in 2009. I am a strong advocate for more SF audio and radio...keep watching this space for upcoming news!

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