The running story of series two of Extras is that, the BBC executives meddle with Andy Millman's original script for When The Whistle Blows to turn it from what he thinks is a classy comedy into an awful critically slated mass-appeal sit-com full of clichés, catch-phrases and wigs, much to his anger.

This is understandable with other TV companies who rely on advertising revenue and are motivated to maximise ratings, but the BBC don't, they get all their money from the license payer, who have to pay it simply because they own a television.

So why did they "dumb down" Andy's comedy simply for the mass market?

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    For plot purposes - this is fiction atter all, it doesn't actually have to be ogical compared to the real world.
    – Paulie_D
    Dec 9, 2019 at 13:13
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    Also I suspect it's a false assumption that the BBC doesn not care about ratings. They still have to justify the licence fee.
    – Paulie_D
    Dec 9, 2019 at 13:14
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    Wrong assumption that BBC get all their money from licences. They got their money from selling producet content. Hence the financial problems after firing Clarkson as right to show one "regular" episode of Top Gear was around million of dollars. Dec 9, 2019 at 13:47
  • @Paulie_D (first comment) yes I know :) but like all plot-devices, it's always better if it makes sense in-universe
    – komodosp
    Dec 9, 2019 at 15:51
  • You don't have to pay the licence fee (spelling) to 'own a television'; you have to pay it if you use a TV or other device to watch broadcast or streamed content. DVDs or tapes are OK without a licence. Dec 10, 2019 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


BBC Studios (formerly BBC Worldwide) are responsible for selling the broadcast rights overseas. This brings in revenue to fund the BBC.

A mass-market show will bring in more money.

Additionally, a show which is a ratings hit may be cheaper to produce in the long-run. If the show keeps getting recommissioned, sets can be reused etc.

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