Channel 4 being privatised could mean the end of shows like It’s a Sin, viewers point out

Olly Alexander in It's a Sin, embracing a man

Fans are concerned that groundbreaking queer shows like It’s a Sin could end up on the cutting room floor in the wake of government plans to privatise Channel 4.

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries announced the Tory government’s plans to privatise Channel 4 on Sunday (3 March), claiming that “government ownership is holding Channel 4 back from competing against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon”.

She added: “A change of ownership will give Channel 4 the tools and freedom to flourish and thrive.”

However, many TV viewers have argued that privatisation could lead to critically-acclaimed and trailblazing shows like It’s a Sin not being made. Writer George Griffiths was one of many to point out that the award-winning drama was rejected by every major UK network aside from Channel 4.

Channel 4’s director of programming, Ian Katz, said in June last year: “It’s A Sin is a brilliant example because it is a show that was turned down by every broadcaster before we made it. It quite simply would not have been made if we hadn’t been there, and I think there are quite a few shows in our schedule of that ilk.”

Citing It’s a Sin and We Are Lady Parts, a sitcom about a female Muslim punk band, Katz argued that there is a “risk” of losing diverse and edgy shows under privatisation.

He said: “Those are all shows that emerge because everyone on the channel is imbued with the public service ethos, and that’s the kind of television that they’re trying to make every day, and I think there’s a real risk if you lose that, that you lose a lot of that kind of programming.”

It’s a Sin creator Russell T Davies’ told PinkNews in January 2021 that bosses at the BBC and ITV, among other channels, said no to the show, and that it would never have been made if not for a lifeline from Channel 4 commissioning editor of drama Lee Mason.

He said: “It was a hard sell, you know, that’s why it went round various channels and was turned down, at least twice if not three times.

“Genuinely, because it’s about people dying. It’s a tough piece of work. And I can’t sit here now with any guarantee that people will watch it – it’ll be really interesting to know.”

He added: “It found its space, it just found its space in the end. So all the things I never said and wrote will come out somewhere, somehow.”