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Doctor Who: Colin Baker's Sixth Doctor Gets Blu-Ray Boxset Respect

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 22/01/2022 - 1:07am in

Doctor Who is giving the Sixth Doctor's second season a Blu-ray boxset with tons of extras featuring Colin Baker, Nicola Bryant, and more.

The Data Doesn’t Back Dorries on TV Licence Fee

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 17/01/2022 - 10:27pm in

The Data Doesn’t Back Dorries on the TV Licence Fee

The Culture Secretary has announced sweeping changes to BBC funding that will mean an end to elderly people being threatened by the Beeb – but are elderly people really going to prison for not paying their licence fee?


“The days of the elderly being threatened with prison sentences and bailiffs knocking on doors are over”, said Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries on Twitter yesterday, as she trailed the Government’s “last announcement” on BBC funding and the licence fee. 

That this will be “the last” announcement has led to rumours that the Government will abolish the fee altogether when the BBC’s Royal Charter comes up for renewal in 2027. The proposals also include a two-year freeze on the fee. 

But, as speculation about the BBC’s future heats up, two implications in Dorries’ tweet need to be challenged: that the elderly are being threatened with prison, and that the BBC is wholly responsible for charging older people for its content. 

Last January, the Government confirmed that there were no people in prison for failing to pay a fine for non-payment of a TV licence in England and Wales. The data was published at the end of a consultation into decriminalising the licence fee. The Government chose to maintain the existing law, saying that it would “keep looking at this as we negotiate the next licence fee settlement”.

The BBC has also been clear that over-75s would not be targeted for non-payment of the licence fee. Last March, the Corporation’s director general Tim Davie confirmed that enforcement letters regarding TV licence non-payment would not be sent to over-75s who previously had a free licence, and the cohort would not be prosecuted for non-payment. 

This was affirmed by Dorries herself when she addressed Parliament on 6 January this year. “The BBC confirmed recently that no enforcement action has been taken against anyone over 75 years of age at this stage,” she said.

“I am clear that the BBC must support those affected by the decision to end free TV licences for over-75s, and I expect it to do so with the utmost sensitivity.”



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A 2020 change in BBC policy limited free TV licences for the over-75s, meaning that only those on pension credit would continue to receive the free benefit. Previous to this, all over-75s were entitled to a free TV licence. 

Downing Street condemned the move, however the BBC hit back to say that the change was forced upon it by the Government’s decision to stop funding the policy. Labour backed the BBC and accused the Government of betraying pensioners and trying to shift the blame on to the broadcaster.

Between 1992 and 1999 – before the free licences for over-75s was introduced by the Labour Government in 2000 – no one over the age of 75 was prosecuted for non-payment of the licence fee, according to the Ministry of Justice. 

Short Sentences, Long Impact

The issue of incarcerating people for non-payment of the TV licence is a serious one that has long been the subject of debates and consultation – with everyone from Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen to prisoners rights groups condemning it as criminalising poverty. 

The law disproportionately impacts on women – 74% of those jailed for this offence are women and it accounted for 30% of all female convictions. The majority of convictions (114,000 in 2019) are dealt with by fines, while 91 people were sentenced to prison for not paying their TV licence between 2015 and 2018. 

Short custodial sentences for non-violent crimes such as non-payment of the licence fee have a devastating impact on women’s mental health, economic outcomes and their relationships with their children. They also fail to resolve the economic issues that lead to non-payment in the first place.

For this reason, it is good news that between June 2020 and at least January 2021, no people were in prison for this offence and that the BBC said it will not send enforcement letters to the older population. However, this does suggest that Dorries’ assertion that the elderly are being threatened with imprisonment is not reflective of the current reality when it comes to sanctions for not paying the licence fee. 

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Less attention is paid to the imprisonment of people for non-payment of council tax, which affected 700 people in England between 2010 and 2017. England is the only country in the UK that imposes prison sentences for this offence. 

As with the non-payment of the TV licence, women are disproportionately impacted by this law as they are more likely to have council tax bills in their own name, and are more likely to be home when enforcement officers arrive. The law also has an impact on women who may be struggling having fled domestic abuse, as they are still obliged to pay council tax. 

Women imprisoned for council tax enforcement laws are often caregivers and face losing custody of their children, their home and their jobs if sent to prison. Prison does not clear the debt, and it risks exacerbating the cycle of poverty that led to non-payment in the first place. 

However, MPs eager to attack the TV licence fee have less to say about custodial sentences for other offences related to non-payment of bills, such as council tax. Speaking to Channel 4 News in 2019, Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake said that he “would prefer not to have this sanction but if it’s necessary, we should keep it”. His colleague Andrew Bridgen MP called criminalising the non-payment of the TV licence fee “indefensible”. However, he told Channel 4 News that the same did not apply for council tax as it “is not a regressive tax”.




Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.




The post The Data Doesn’t Back Dorries on TV Licence Fee appeared first on Byline Times.

Doctor Who: So Wait, Danny Dyer is the Next Doctor AND James Bond?!

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 16/01/2022 - 12:40am in

So Danny Dyer is the Next Doctor on Doctor Who and James Bond?! No, but that doesn't mean we can't have a little fun playing "What If...?"

The Highs and Lows of 2021: A Disabled Person’s Perspective

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 14/01/2022 - 8:00pm in

The Highs and Lows of 2021A Disabled Person’s Perspective

Penny Pepper shares some of the enduring inequalities and the memorable breakthroughs which characterised the past year for disabled people


When attempting a review of 2021 from a disability perspective, it’s hard to avoid the Coronavirus pandemic.

Discussing this with my networks, friends and colleagues, I asked: was there anything beyond COVID-19?

We already know the horrific statistics that disabled people have been disproportionately affected by the virus for reasons that are not entirely clear. According to the Health Foundation, “there has been a surprising absence of analysis of the reasons for this particular inequality”. 

But some of the impacts on disabled people that have not received as much exposure include chronic loneliness, a multiplying of barriers and exacerbated isolation. If you are already restricted by barriers to your freedom – along with limited support – it’s no wonder that COVID-19 has increased them.

It is difficult for anyone not to sink into the psychological effects of this ‘new normal’ – a mindset likely to deteriorate with the Government appearing to give up on those citizens that it has corralled into the paddock of the ‘most vulnerable’. Indeed, Long COVID may bring new members to the disability club – and no doubt the shock at how much discrimination and even abuse disabled people face will leave many reeling.

Add to this the impact on the NHS. Many chronic secondary health conditions disabled people already face cannot now be treated regularly or in time, resulting in complications that are more serious – more expensive – in the future. 

‘Life Unworthy of Life’The Lessons of T4
Stephen Unwin

The Government’s much-delayed non-event of its health and disability green paper – ‘Shaping Future Support‘ – was a repeat exercise in old policies boiling down to the idea of ‘can we make this cheaper and get you back to work?’. It disregarded the ‘social model’ of disability – which examines how society is organised in a way that is non-responsive to disabled people – opting squarely to ‘improving’ the lives of individual disabled people.  

The Health and Care Bill likewise was met with mixed responses. Disabled people hardly merited a mention in it and the proposed legislation remains a confusing, contradictory effort. As reported by the King’s Fund think tank, “the bill falls far short of a meaningful commitment on social care”.

Disabled activists roll their weary eyes. Social care is already in tatters; the battlefield and the casualties mount up even now. From being denied support to use the toilet at night, to endless heartless ‘assessments’, the current approach is obscene and counter-intuitive to the original purpose of a welfare state. Unsurprisingly, not one person supported the Government’s approach when I issued a call-out for views across my networks. May the Gods help us all if this bill is implemented. 

2021 also saw the independent peer Baroness Jane Campbell and others speak out to support the continuation of ‘hybrid’ online working, although a number of disabled people reported that it was not always an easy option. Like most people, we are missing the interaction with other human beings – the right to do this, to be within a community in the outside world, is something for which disabled people have campaigned fiercely, whether it’s through the independent living movement or the closure of vast mental asylums.

It is not for the first time I feel that disabled people are more acutely aware of what it means to lose basic freedoms than their non-disabled counterparts.

Some Memorable Highlights

Determined to find some highlights in 2021, I was reminded of some breakthrough moments within society and the media.

Channel 4 reported an overall viewing figure of 20 million for the Paralympic Games. Some people with Down’s Syndrome secured the right for their campaign to challenge what they believe is a discriminatory abortion law at the High Court, hailed as a ground-breaking action for people with learning difficulties. 

We saw the deaf Eastenders actress, Rose Ayling-Ellis, win BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, irresistibly lifting the mood of many and leading to a huge interest in learning BSL. Veteran disabled actor Liz Carr was on TV a lot – including in a recent episode of The Witcher, wearing a fetching ginger wig, and in the much-delayed release of the Hollywood film InfiniteThe Bookseller – the industry magazine of publishing – even had a ‘disability special edition’. Responses may have been mixed, but it’s a great start. 

One of my favourite highlights was screenwriter Jack Thorne’s MacTaggart Lecture at the Edinburgh TV Festival last August. As an old-timer still determined to tell the widest disability story, Thorne’s words encourage my cautious optimism. His lecture was important because we remain ignored, side-lined, overlooked, patronised, second-class, and sometimes hated without much condemnation. We need to be heard.

Recognise Disabled People’s RightsInstead of Turning them into Charity Cases
Penny Pepper

Our visibility on TV, in particular, is increasing and stories are moving away from the tired clichés of ‘pity porn’ and its flip-side twin ‘triumph over tragedy’. What happens behind the camera counts for just as much in terms of equality – from who is writing material to who the make-up artist is. As Thorne observed, “TV has failed disabled people”, and there is a lot to do. The statistics on this make a mockery of inclusion initiatives – and committees and forums and think tanks – that I have been privy to for more than 25 years. 

A story helps us become human, but as the biggest marginalised group comprising 20% of the population, we scarcely make up 2% anywhere within diversity streams. Our chronic absence from the mainstream narrative links directly to institutional discrimination, including disabled people have been treated during the Coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing scandals with the Department for Work and Pensions (always a low point). 

Among my personal highlights in 2021 was writing for Byline Times and the engagement with readers.

Surviving my working-class background, 1970s power cuts as a kid and Thatcher in the 80s, it’s good to look back on what we’ve all survived – and I remain optimistic with the grassroots disability activism that continues. Together, let’s look out of the window – watch less mainstream news and wait for the sun.




Byline Times is funded by its subscribers. Receive our monthly print edition and help to support fearless, independent journalism.




The post The Highs and Lows of 2021: A Disabled Person’s Perspective appeared first on Byline Times.

Doctor Who: John Barrowman Has Interesting Response to Return Request

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 12/01/2022 - 5:56am in

John Barrowman to a fan wanting him to "make up" with BBC for a Doctor Who return: "Mate they dumped me. I don't need to make up to anyone."

Why Is Doctor Who Tiptoeing Around the Doctor's LGBTQ Identity?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 10/01/2022 - 1:28am in

Doctor Who continues tiptoeing around the Doctor's LGBTQ identity despite Jodie Whittaker's Doctor being the most queer-coded of them all.

Doctor Who: Jodie Whittaker Regen Scene Wrapped & Here's How She Felt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/01/2022 - 7:38am in

Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker said filming the regen scene was "singularly the most emotional day on set I think I've ever had."

Doctor Who "Eve of the Daleks" Lets Creepy Guy Off the Hook, Win Girl

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 04/01/2022 - 12:37am in

Doctor Who "Eve of the Daleks" is a story that lets a creepy guy off the hook so he can win the girl he's stalking. Is this a good thing?

Doctor Who "Eve" Team Offers Executioner Daleks Behind the Scenes Look

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 03/01/2022 - 4:33am in

The cast and creative team behind the BBC's Doctor Who "Eve of the Daleks" take viewers behind the scenes with the Executioner Daleks.

Ten Thoughts About Doctor Who: Eve Of The Daleks, The Doctor And Yaz

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sun, 02/01/2022 - 7:51am in

I have just seen Doctor Who: Eve Of The Daleks. There are thoughts to be had and to be shared. And yes, spoilers, obviously. That's the way things work...