Film 2019 will never be, as BBC drops long-running movie show

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Past Film presenters, from left: Claudia Winkleman, Jonathan Ross and Barry Norman
Image caption,
Between them, Claudia Winkleman, Jonathan Ross and Barry Norman hosted the show for 44 years

The BBC has confirmed it will not broadcast its long-running Film... series next year.

The programme first aired in 1971 and has since been fronted by Barry Norman, Jonathan Ross and Claudia Winkleman.

"In 2019 we will be creating an enhanced offer for lovers of film both on television and online," the corporation told BBC News.

"We're still working through the details and will have more news about what this will look like soon."

Film's title has changed annually since it launched, to reflect the year in which it was being broadcast.

It began in 1971, airing only in the South East area of the UK, with rotating guest presenters including Joan Bakewell.

The following year it expanded and was broadcast to the whole country, with Norman its first permanent host.

Image source, PA/Getty
Image caption,
Edith Bowman, Charlie Brooker and Clara Amfo have guest hosted Film since Winkleman left

Winkleman, the show's most recent regular host, left the show in 2016, and the programme has since been fronted by various guest presenters including Edith Bowman, Clara Amfo and Charlie Brooker.

But its profile was at its highest in the 26 years when it was hosted by Norman, who was such a well-known TV presence that he was caricatured as a puppet on Spitting Image.

He also had a catchphrase - "And why not?" - invented for him by impressionist Rory Bremner.

It was a time when Norman combined his incisive reviews of the week's releases with on-set reports of future releases and interviews with Hollywood's biggest names.

In 2014, he named Jamie Lee Curtis, Martin Scorsese, Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney as four of his favourite interviewees during his time on the show.

But even when the programme was at its height, fixed in a regular time slot, it did not appear on TV throughout the year - which meant that some major releases (particularly summer blockbusters) only got a summary review from Norman when the programme returned from its annual mid-year break.

The BBC said in a statement that its new plan to cover film from now on would fix that anomaly, offering "a more consistent approach across the year".

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