BBC Studios' Mark Linsey Advocates for Lower Drama and Comedy Tariffs Amid Economic Challenges


Tallinn, Estonia - 01/18/2019: BBC News website homepage. BBC logo visible through a magnifying glass. - Image (Anton Garin /

BBC Studios' Scripted MD Mark Linsey Highlights Need for Cost-Effective Production

In a recent statement, Mark Linsey, the Managing Director of Scripted at BBC Studios, emphasized the need for the production community to consider creating drama and comedy content at lower tariffs. This call comes in response to the current challenging economic climate affecting the global scripted market.

Key Takeaways:

  • Mark Linsey of BBC Studios calls for lower tariffs in drama and comedy production.
  • The global scripted market faces challenges due to U.S. strikes and economic strife.
  • Difficulty in attracting financing is a major concern.
  • Partnerships are becoming increasingly crucial in the industry.
  • The Doctor Who series exemplifies successful co-production and budget management.

Challenges in the Global Scripted Market

Linsey, who relocated to Los Angeles last year, described the state of the global scripted market as "incredibly challenging." He cited factors such as U.S. strikes, broader economic difficulties, and the challenges in securing financing. "We all know about challenges to costs of production and that is real and hasn't gone away in drama," Linsey remarked at Content London.

The Proposal for Lower Tariffs

Linsey's proposal involves rethinking how drama and comedy can be produced more cost-effectively. "As a community, we have to think about how we are going to create drama and comedy at a lower tariff as financing gets more challenging," he stated. This approach is seen as a necessary adaptation to the current financial constraints facing the industry.

The Role of Partnerships

In Linsey's view, partnerships are more critical than ever in the current market. He highlighted the example of the Doctor Who series, which has seen a significant budget increase and brought Disney+ on board as a co-producer for the upcoming series. The first of a trio of anniversary specials launched recently, showcasing the potential of such collaborations.

European Producers in the UK Market

BBC Studios productions boss Ralph Lee commented on the opportunities for European producers in the UK. He noted that the local market has been "really hard" in the past 18 months. "For producers trying to get ideas into the UK studio system, it is really tough because of the creative sector here and the relationship between supply and demand," Lee explained. He anticipates more partnerships, similar to BBC Studios' natural history co-production deal with Germany's ZDF.

Adapting to Market Conditions

Matt Forde, who recently took over BBC Studios' newly-minted global entertainment arm, emphasized the need for producers to think "differently and entrepreneurially" to overcome current challenges. He cited the Death in Paradise spin-off Return to Paradise for Australia's ABC as an example. Forde acknowledged the slowing market as "SVoDs think again about how much they want to invest" but also pointed out the positives, such as more opportunities arising due to less talent being tied to long-term deals with major U.S. companies.


The call for lower tariffs in drama and comedy production by Mark Linsey reflects a broader need for adaptation and innovation in the entertainment industry. As economic challenges persist, the emphasis on partnerships, cost-effective production, and entrepreneurial thinking becomes increasingly vital for the survival and growth of the global scripted market.