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BBC 'unbelievably important global brand', says Bafta LA's chief

Published 28/04/2016

Bafta LA chief executive Chantal Rickards (Slate PR/PA)
Bafta LA chief executive Chantal Rickards (Slate PR/PA)

The BBC is an "unbelievably important global brand" and should be supported as much as possible, the head of Bafta Los Angeles has said, amid uncertainty about the corporation's future.

Chantal Rickards said she hoped the broadcaster would remain "strong" and "prosper for a long time" as the Government prepares to publish its White Paper on the renewal of the BBC royal charter.

Ms Rickards, who became Bafta LA's first chief executive last year, previously worked as commissioning executive at the BBC and said the corporation had an "imprimatur of creative excellence".

She told the Press Association: "I would love the BBC to prosper for a long time, I think it was a brilliant place for people to learn their craft. I hope that continues. I'd be terribly sad if it didn't.

"As an ex-member of the BBC, I just want it to be incredibly strong. It's an unbelievably important global brand. It means so much to Britain and for Britain that I think we should support it as much as we possibly can. I don't think anyone would disagree with that to be honest.

"Saying you've worked for the BBC or saying that this has got BBC writers on it, or BBC talent on it, makes a big difference. It absolutely does still ring true that there is a fantastic imprimatur of creative excellence that comes with the BBC."

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed the White Paper on the future of the BBC will be published by the Government in May.

The broadcaster's royal charter is due to expire in December this year and reports have suggested that instead of its 10-year lifespan, it could be reduced to five years.

Meanwhile, Ms Rickards, who worked on the international formats for Masterchef, Countdown and Through The Keyhole as a TV executive, praised Hugh Laurie for paving the way for Britons to have starring roles in US television shows.

She said Laurie's portrayal of Dr Gregory House in the drama series House, for which he received two Golden Globe Awards and two Screen Actors Guild Awards, " made a difference" for fellow British actors in America.

"When he could carry what was essentially a very, very American TV series, everybody went; 'He's just brilliant and it doesn't matter if he's British'," Ms Rickards said.

"You'd be thrilled to have Tom Hiddleston in your new movie, thrilled to have Damian Lewis in your new TV show. We're knocking it out of the ball park over here. The Hugh Laurie effect did make a difference.

"I think we've been very accepting in the past of letting non-Brits do very particular British roles, and I think the Americans are quite cool with that too."

Ms Rickards said the recent discussion on the success of British actors from affluent backgrounds "wasn't a debate that was played out" in LA.

She said: "We saw that in the British press but it doesn't get mentioned to us here in Los Angeles because they don't know where anybody went to school or what their background is, and they actually don't care.

"It wasn't a debate that was played out here in any shape or form."

Asked whether people from poorer backgrounds had the same opportunities to succeed in Hollywood than those from affluent backgrounds, Ms Rickards replied: "In general terms, I think the answer to that is no. But that's why Bafta is doing as much as it possibly can to recognise inequality because the world is not equal."

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