New research from the TaxPayers' Alliance shows that the European Commission has spent nearly £10 million on grants to TV productions in 2014 alone, the first year of the new "Creative Europe programme. The most recent EU budget saw Britain contribute 11.4 per cent of total EU funds. No detail about the individual contributions to "Creative Europe" are available, but working on the 11.4 per cent figure, these TV grants have cost British taxpayers more than £1 million. In Britain the project is administered by the British Council and the British Film Institute, so the real cost to taxpayers will in fact be higher than this due to staff time.
Among the projects funded are:
- Barbarians: The Last of the Pink Panthers, a drama series about stolen diamonds and financial markets, given £732,000 (€1,000,000)
- Spotless, a series about two brothers who run a "crime scene cleaning business" described as "dark, funny, sexy and dangerous," also given £732,000 (€1,000,000)
- Occupied, a suspense thriller in which Russia, on behalf of the European Union, invades Norway to control its oil resources, given £366,000 (€500,000)
- Ladybug!, an animated series about French children Marinette and Adrian who have been chosen to save Paris by stopping the Butterfly - a "super baddy who spreads chaos in the City of Light" - via their alter egos LadyBug and Black Cat, given £366,000 (€500,000)
- Get Blake, a "fast-paced, gag-loaded, action-packed, sci-fi infused, character-driven animated comedy. Blake, an only child with loving parents, is destined to become a courageous Space Ranger but who is currently battling a marauding race of alien squirrels, the "Squaliens." Get Blake was awarded £292,000 (€400,000)
- Bat Pat, following the spooky adventures of Bat Pat (a talking bat) and his friends Martin, Leo and Rebecca Silver, given £256,000
- America in the Obama Years, a documentary series about Barack Obama's presidency, given £219,000 (€300,000)
- The Day Henry Met, an animated show about 4-year-old Henry who meets a new concept every day, given £95,000 (€130,291). Shows include The Day Henry Met a Whale, The Day Henry Met the Moon, and the sinister-sounding The Day Henry Met a Car.
- Little Yellow Boots, a TV show in which a filmmaker concerned about climate change hotfoots around the world with his imaginary great-granddaughter to find the key to saving the planet, given £71,000 (€98,000)
- Europe: Who Do You Think You Are?, a mockumentary set in 2060 originally planned to star Eddie Izzard as an archaeologist, given £71,000 (€96,991). Izzard was to narrate a "dystopian future" in which "the EU has disintegrated." The feature film - described as a "documentary" in the official description - was designed to argue "that despite the many flaws of the European Project, the case for togetherness remains overwhelming." This was shown in the UK on March 1st 2015 on BBC4 as The Great European Disaster Movie, starring Angus Deayton rather than Izzard.
- Samurai Warrior Queens, a drama-documentary focusing on 19th century samurai warrior Takeko Nakano who founded an all-female fighting unit to defend her clan's independence, given £40,000 (€54,454)
Some other projects funded include the third series of Bron/Broen, better known in the UK as The Bridge, given £732,000 (€1,000,000), raising questions about why a show with such incredible commercial success requires taxpayer subsidy.
Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive 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 a million pounds 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.
"Considering the myriad problems facing the European Union, you would think they'd have something better to do than subsidise cartoons about extra-terrestrial squirrels."