BBC, Channel 4 Part of British Identity, Says BAFTA and Oscar Winner Steve McQueen

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Oscar, BAFTA and Turner Prize winner Steve McQueen has said that broadcasters BBC and Channel 4 are an integral part of British identity.

During the Virgin Media BAFTA TV awards on Sunday, McQueen said during his acceptance speech for winning best factual series for BBC documentary “Uprising” that BBC and Channel 4 have to be held tight and fought for every inch. Both broadcasters are facing an existential threat from the U.K. government, with Channel 4 being privatized and the BBC’s funding being slashed in real terms.

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Addressing a press conference after his latest BAFTA win, McQueen said: “We’re British, it’s part of our identity, it’s who we are. As a working class guy, you put on the TV, it’s like the fire, you put it on, and it’s on – and it was the BBC and Channel 4.”

“We don’t have much money in this country for television or films, but what we do have in the arts, in fashion, in lots of creative industries – we have ideas. We have great ideas. That’s what we do,” said McQueen. “Other people have loads more money — the Americans — but we have great ideas, that’s what makes us who we are. As British people, we can stretch a pound. That’s what we’ve always done. We’ve always been innovative in a way of how we create really great stuff with very little funds.”

“And we need the BBC and Channel 4 to help sustain that and our identity – because I don’t want us to be, no disrespect, Yanks,” McQueen said.

The abiding theme of the BAFTA TV awards ceremony, held as an in-person event at London’s Royal Festival Hall, was support for the British broadcasters from the top creatives of the U.K. media industry.

McQueen’s award-winning work includes “12 Years a Slave,” “Hunger” and “Small Axe.”

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