In a further development to the recent BBC ‘mumble-gate’ scandal, the BBC’s TV chief Charlotte Moore has pledged to tackle problems with sound on hit dramas such as Happy Valley but admitted it is often “incredibly hard” to identify what went wrong.
“Sound has been a big issue, all of us want to make sure that sound levels are absolutely so people can hear the fantastic work we are doing,”
Moore said it was often down to a “unique set of circumstances”, and said producers had gone back into the edit suite following complaints about the first episode of Happy Valley to solve the issue.
“After episode one we took everyone back into the edit to really try to make sure, to work very hard to make it crisper and change those levels. It is something we take incredibly seriously,”
“It is incredibly hard to get to the bottom of where things go wrong. It’s often several circumstances and it’s quite hard to isolate if there is one particular problem. It is often several different problems coming together. Sound is a very exact science…Getting to the bottom [of this] is usually a bringing together of several issues, and that is what we are working on with suppliers to make sure these things don’t happen again. We know how difficult it is – there are multiple reasons.”
“We have had a couple of instances of issues where people have felt very strongly. We went straight into the edit to see what we could do. Of course none of us want our drama not to be heard. The will is there from all of us.”
In a report for Which? magazine, poor sound quality has also been blamed on the new generation of flat TVs.
“Modern TVs might have fantastic picture quality, but their sound is often disappointing as new slimline TVs have limited space for built-in speakers,”
However, sound issues appear to have affected BBC productions more than their commercial counterparts. Another BBC drama, crime series Quirke, starring Gabriel Byrne, also attracted complaints about the quality of the sound in 2014.
Viewers have also complained about the volume of music on BBC natural history shows. Professor Brian Cox said in 2011 that the BBC was wrong to turn the volume down on his BBC2 show, Wonders of the Universe, after the first episode prompted more than 100 complaints.