‘Sherlock’s’ Steven Moffat Says Government Pulling BBC Funding Would Be ‘Vandalism of the Worst Kind’

TCA 2015: “Doctor Who” showrunner calls proposed budget cuts “outrageous … terrible … wrong … ill conceived”

Last Updated: August 1, 2015 @ 12:10 PM

Steven Moffat ripped the British government Saturday during “Sherlock’s” TCA panel, calling the potential for the BBC’s pulled public funding “vandalism of the worst kind.”

“I think what’s going on is outrageous. It’s absolutely terrible and wrong and ill conceived,” Moffat told a Beverly Hilton ballroom full of TV critics. “It staggers me that we’ve got a government [that] got elected, and decided that the main problem with Britain is our national broadcasting. Does anybody think that?”

“They must have something more important to do,” he continued. “The trouble is, it’s an oddity — the BBC — to say the least. It’s an extraordinary oddity that it’s so good. You don’t ordinarily have a national broadcaster that is that amazing.”

The British government is currently considering yanking public funding from the famed BBC, instead potentially insisting on a subscription fee to keep the TV model specifically afloat. The radio arm is more likely to stay focused on public programming and thus less likely to be abandoned by the government.

The audit goes on, and the future remains a bit unclear. Clearly, Moffat and others are not fans of the privatization idea even being a real possibility.

“If we switch it off, we won’t know how to put it back on again,” Moffat opined, calling the BBC “a beacon and an icon.” He added: “And everything … will be less good.”

“To damage that for temporary political gain is vandalism of the worst kind,” he concluded.

Moffat, who was also on the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour stage for BBC America’s “Doctor Who,” added plenty of light moments to his weekend panel as well. While Moffat couldn’t reveal much about the highly secretive “Sherlock” return — including even a real estimate of a Masterpiece airdate on this side of the pond — he teased the new run via a couple of jokes.

On why he’s setting what PBS will call Season 4 in Victorian London and no longer modern-day England, he joked: “Well, we checked the books and discovered we got it wrong.” Plus, more sincerely, ghost stories just work better in Victorian times, Moffat explained.

The writer called the olden-times version of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes “a lot less brattish … more polished; he operates like a Victorian gentleman instead of a posh, rude man.”

Martin Freeman’s Dr. Watson is “a bit more upright” in the throwback version, Moffat said.

It seems likely that “Sherlock” will air on PBS sometime around Christmas 2015. The BBC must schedule it on their end first.