Sixteen years ago the BBC made a gem of a drama called Signs and Wonders.
The series, which told of an English priest’s daughter who joined a US cult, starred James Earl Jones, Prunella Scales, David Warner, Joghi May and Donald Pleasence.
It was exactly the sort of ambitious, challenging drama the BBC excels at when it devotes the creative resources.
It also has the distinction of being Pleasence’s final television role yet has never been released on DVD or, as far as I can tell, repeated in the UK.
A few years back BBC Four declined to reshow it when I asked them to. There was no suggestion that the BBC lacked the rights, merely that the drama didn’t fit with what they thought audiences wanted to see.
No-one I’ve spoken to is aware of it having since been sneaked into the schedules.
The same is true of hundreds of hours of drama including films and plays which have never been seen since their original transmission.
BBC bosses tell us that these austere times will necessitate the screening of more repeats but for some reason these repeats never seem to include the fantastic drama on which the corporation built so much of its reputation and standing.
Don’t feel too bad if you’ve never heard of Signs and Wonders, even the BBC managed to miss it off of Jones’s list of credits in their coverage of his well-deserved honorary Oscar.