Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Producer Lloyd hits out at BBC

The BBC brought in 'compliance' rules following Russell Brand, pictured, and Jonathan Ross's notorious prank phone calls, John Lloyd said
The BBC brought in 'compliance' rules following Russell Brand, pictured, and Jonathan Ross's notorious prank phone calls, John Lloyd said

John Lloyd, the comedy producer behind TV hits such as QI, Not The Nine O'Clock News and Blackadder, has criticised the BBC for trying to make "programmes by committee" for fear of causing offence.

John, who was made a CBE in the New Year honours list, said a culture of form-filling resulted in bland programming.

Writing in the Radio Times, he said "sauciness" was no longer allowed before 9pm anywhere on the BBC - particularly not on BBC1.

"The commissioning, legal, compliance and editorial policy police hover over the scripts and the recordings, alert to the merest potential offence," he said.

"There are blanket proscriptions, passed down from on high, which reduce everything to a bland vichyssoise that suits comedy programmes not at all. Heaven knows what they would have done to The Two Ronnies."

Controversial, tightened-up, programme-making rules, called "compliance", were brought in following Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand's notorious prank phone calls, when the pair left tasteless messages on the answering machine of Fawlty Towers actor Andrew Sachs.

John said that if the decision on whether to broadcast had been left to the radio show's young producer, Nic Philps, who Lloyd said had since become a missionary in China, "no-one would ever have heard a thing about it" because he had said it was unbroadcastable.

John, who started Radio 4 panel game Quote ... Unquote and co-produced The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, made the comments as his brainchild, QI, returns to BBC2 after three years on flagship channel BBC1.

He said he was happy the programme, presented by Stephen Fry, was moving back to its old home, saying that despite the show doing "very well in the ratings on BBC1" there had been "a cost". The move to BBC1 meant it "had to stop being what we had become - eclectic, uncompromising, slightly saucy", he said.

Several BBC stars, including Chris Evans and Sir Terry Wogan, have criticised what they have described as a culture of form-filling at the corporation, saying it has stifled talent.

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