European Union bureaucrats sank more than £10 million into subsiding television shows last year, it was revealed yesterday. The money went to make programmes promoting the merits of the EU and warning of the dangers of climate change as well as to support popular series that are already highly successful.
British taxpayers are thought to have contributed more than £1 million last year to the television subsidies system, part of a £1 billion Brussels ‘Creative Europe’ fund.
The TV spending was unearthed in research by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, which condemned it as a ‘contemptible’ waste of money on vanity projects.
The Great European Disaster Movie starring Angus Deyton. The programme is one of a number that has been subsidised by the European Union
A number of the subsidised programmes have been seen on British television – and one, The Great European Disaster Movie, was broadcast by the BBC to widespread derision from critics.
Other shows backed by Brussels included one in which a climate change activist searches the world for ways to save the planet, a documentary about Barack Obama, a series of the commercially successful The Bridge, likely to be shown by the BBC later this year or next year, and a half-hour episode of Shaun the Sheep.
It has been given £1.06 billion to spend by 2020 to ‘enable the sectors to reach their economic potential, contributing to sustainable growth, jobs, and social cohesion’.
However some of the projects into which it has ploughed money have come under severe criticism.
One, called The Great European Disaster Movie, directed by a journalist who writes for The Guardian and written by the editor of the pro-European Economist magazine, explained to viewers the ‘catastrophic consequences’ if Britain were to leave the EU.
Shown on BBC4 in March, it was intended to star Eddie Izzard but ended up with Angus Deayton as a future traveller finding out how disastrous it had been that the EU had been allowed to break up. One critic described it as ‘patronising and infuriating’.
Another project funded by Brussels was Little Yellow Boots, in which a filmmaker who is concerned about climate change travels with his imaginary great-granddaughter to find a solution.
The ‘character-driven human interest story’ is designed to help us ‘understand some of the unexpected and little thought of consequences of climate change’.
A series of The Bridge was given £732,000, America in the Obama Years received £219,000, and an animated series about children who save Paris from a villain was awarded £366,000.
A grant of £292,000 went to Get Blake, about a child who fights against alien squirrels from space called Squaliens.
Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Another day, another prime piece of evidence that Brussels bureaucrats simply do not understand the value of taxpayers’ money.
‘Blowing more than £1 million on grants to fanciful animated adventures, pro-European mockumentaries with B-list celebrities and projects which would be successful without such generous subsidy is totally inappropriate and, frankly, contemptible. We have to bring to an end these vanity projects and hold the faceless administrators who sign off this over-generous spending to account.’