The spirit of W1A comes to the real BBC as the Corporation runs out of paper

Article by Ben Dowell for the Radio Times

22nd April 2015
Source: Radio Times

As the second series of the BBC comedy starring Hugh Bonneville and Sarah Parish returns, leaked emails show that fiction is not far from reality when it comes to internal crises.

It is a problem that would have Hugh Bonneville’s bungling BBC executive Ian Fletcher reaching for his Blackberry: the real-life BBC has run out of paper.

On the eve of the return of the second series of W1A – BBC’s satire about itself – leaked emails from inside the real Corporation reveal that the organisation is running dangerously low on paper after its suppliers failed to deliver.

In an email headed “WARNING: No A4 paper in NBH – aarrrghhh!” A BBC PA to a senior executive tells fellow toilers: “Hi folks. Please let your teams know that there’s been a cock-up somewhere in the system, which InterServe are trying to resolve now, but either no paper has been ordered or no paper has yet been delivered to the building… but currently there is no spare A4 & limited spare A3 paper in NBH [New Broadcasting House].”

The email adds ominously: “ Might be a good idea to warn your teams to only print if they absolutely HAVE to for the moment, until this can be resolved today. Watch this space for updates.”

John Morton, the writer of W1A, has already risen to the challenge of addressing the issue, suggesting “the problem is the SyncopatiPaper – a system which is brilliant when it works…”

Ian Fletcher is often seen bemoaning the perils of “Syncopation” with his IT devices in the comedy, and Bonneville – in the guise of his character – tells “There appear to be some slight teething problems with the new SyncopatiPaper system, which comes with full paperlessness as a default setting for sustainability reasons.”

At least they can take the joke with an in-joke of their own, eh?

The first episode of John Morton’s satire about the Corporation returns with an hour-long episode later this month in which one of the sub-plots involves deleting all the archive episodes of Top Gear in which Jeremy Clarkson uses the word “tosser”.

The episode, which kicks off the second series on April 23rd, was written before Clarkson was told his Top Gear contract would not be renewed following his altercation with producer Oisin Tymon. However, the W1A production team then decided to make comic mileage from the Clarkson plotline by pixellating Clarkson’s face in archive footage and bleeping out his name from the narration.

Another of the new plotlines concerns a royal visit from Prince Charles with the second series also promising walk-on cameos from Alex Jones and Matt Baker from The One Show and presenter and classicist Mary Beard.

Many of the regulars from series one will be returning including the jargon-spouting PR Siobhan Sharpe played by Jessica Hynes and Sarah Parish’s icy head of BBC output Anna Rampton.

5.40pm UPDATE: The situation may have been resolved.

The BBC issued a statement to which reads: “There was a bit of a paper jam earlier, but more supplies have now been delivered.”


The new series of W1A returns to BBC2 on Thursday April 23 at 9pm

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