Belfast Telegraph

Saunders condemns 'top-heavy' BBC

Jennifer Saunders has launched a stinging criticism of the BBC, slamming the "top-heavy" management structure and calling it an "executive-run place for idiots".

The creator of Absolutely Fabulous was scathing about licence-payers' money being spent on lavish lunches rather than devoted to programme-making, in an interview with Glamour magazine.

Her comments come as director-general Tony Hall is about to set out his vision for the broadcaster's future with technological innovations for the iPlayer which will transform viewing and listening, as well as increased arts spending.

Jennifer, who is about to launch her autobiography Bonkers: My Life In Laughs, said of the BBC: "It's unrecognisable now. It's become top-heavy in such an ugly way.

"They went corporate instead of being what they should be, which is a national resource which trains people and curates the best programmes, encourages talent and provides great news. They just became an executive-run place for idiots."

The 55-year-old, who has gone on to be a presenter for Radio 2 with her friend Dawn French, went on: "I remember when it was fun to be there and everybody in the building looked like they really knew something and were good at something.

"Now they have things like massive workshops on decision-making and you think: 'If you're a head of department at the BBC and you don't know how to make a decision, why are you in that job? That's the only thing that you have to do.'"

Jennifer complained: "It got so annoying that you were called into these special lunches with the director-general at The Ivy and you were like 'F*** off'. This is the licence-payers' money. I'm paying for the car to take me there - we all are. And I'd like an extra bit of budget on my programme, please, and less of your wheels."

She also made a more light-hearted reference to BBC creative director Alan Yentob, the man who originally commissioned Ab Fab and whose name has been used as an in-joke during the series and who has made comic cameo appearances in French & Saunders sketches.

Jennifer joked: "How is Alan Yentob still allowed in the building? There are questions that need to be answered. It's absolutely extraordinary and I just don't get it."

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