A Working-Class Protest

Nov 17, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Some TV shows just don’t go away quietly. Such is the case with “EastEnders,” which was canceled in September on BBC America, though it is still hugely popular in the United Kingdom, where it attracts up to 20 million viewers four times a week. The cancellation, however, didn’t stop a small but rabid group of fans, led by a journalist named Larry Jaffee, editor of Medialine, from holding a protest outside BBC offices on Third Avenue last week in New York. We asked Mr. Jaffee what was motivating his obsession with this very British show. “There isn’t much on American television that interests me,” he asserted. “American television has never dealt with working-class life seriously. The closest it ever got was `Roseanne,’ and that was a sitcom. My father is a New York cab driver. Maybe my Anglophilia for `EastEnders’ has to do with class roots or my fascination with Matchbox cars (made in England) when I was a kid.” Jo Petherbridge, spokesperson for BBC America, sounded bemused by the whole affair, noting that the BBC office in New York is only a sales outlet for the British network. “We know Larry well,” she sighed, adding that “EastEnders” never worked well on the BBC America schedule and only attracted about one-tenth the audience of whatever its lead-in was. A previous attempt to picket BBC America in Burbank, Calif., failed, she noted.