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BBC beats Netflix in bidding war for British drama Dear England

BBC beats Netflix in bidding war for British drama Dear England

The BBC has won a bidding war with Netflix for Dear England, amid fears over the future of British storytelling on television.
Sources say Left Bank Pictures and Dear England writer James Graham wanted to adapt the play for the BBC, despite a more lucrative offer from Netflix.

The Handmaid's Tale actor Joseph Fiennes (pictured) played waistcoat-wearing England manager Gareth Southgate in the stage performance and will reprise his role in the BBC series.

Left Bank and Graham, backed by Sony Pictures Television, chose the BBC over Netflix because they see Dear England as a national story that needs to be told by the UK's national broadcaster.

Finances for the deal were not disclosed and Left Bank is likely to supplement the lower BBC fee with international sales. BBC sources hope the series can become a 'blockbuster' national moment.

The deal came just weeks before Left Bank founder Andy Harries gave an impassioned speech on British drama at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards.

He said the UK was at risk of becoming a "service industry" for Hollywood and that British broadcasters, including the BBC and ITV, were becoming "increasingly vulnerable" to streamers such as Netflix.

“The streamers need the competition. Our industry needs a healthy BBC. The BBC keeps us British, its role in our society is unique and unifying,” he said.

Harries and Jane Tranter, co-founder of Doctor Who outlet Bad Wolf, used both platforms last week to call for the recent 40% tax break for British indie films to be extended to "specifically British" limited series.

Harries also praised the ITV series Mr Bates vs The Post Office, which became a huge local hit in January after Toby Jones brought to life a painful miscarriage of justice.
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