BEEB’S REPEATS SCANDAL
TV boss claims ‘viewers love watching old shows’ at Xmas
A BBC boss has caused outrage after claiming that viewers “love repeats” at Christmas.
Kate Phillips backed the Beeb’s content after it emerged 59% on its two main channels had aired before.
Show re-runs include The Vicar of Dibley, starring Dawn French and Emma Chambers, and Dad’s Army.
Ms Phillips pointed to family tradition, but Jo Stevens MP hit back: “Licence-fee payers expect more.”
TELEVISION licence-fee payers will feel “short-changed” by the amount of repeats being shown on the BBC this Christmas, campaigners say.
Nearly three-quarters of festive content on BBC 2 has aired before.
Overall, 59% of programming across BBC 1 and 2 is set to be re-runs, up from 50% last year.
MPS and taxpayer groups criticised the schedule.
Labour MP Jo Stevens, who sits on the Commons Digital, Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, said: “It’s disappointing to hear that, yet again, this Christmas, BBC schedules will be full of repeat programmes.
“Licence-fee payers expect more. If audiences are served up old programmes again and again, they will look to other channels for Christmas entertainment and won’t come back to the BBC.”
While John O’connell, chief of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “No one minds a re-run of a classic film or an episode of Only Fools and Horses.
“But when there is so little original content at this time of year, licence-fee payers might be feeling a bit shortchanged over the festive period.”
Of the 282 shows to be screened on BBC 2 from December 22 to January 4, a total of 209 – or 73% – are re-runs.
In all, 301 shows across the BBC’S two main channels are repeats, including Porridge, Dad’s Army, Morecambe and Wise and The Vicar of Dibley.
Among film aired before are My Week With Marilyn, with Michelle Williams in the title role, and Mary Poppins.
Meanwhile, ITV’S Christmas programming will reportedly have less than 50% of repeated content.
Kate Phillips, BBC controller of entertainment, insisted viewers would be happy. She said: “We do show repeats, but we find that people love a bit of repeats because Christmas is all about tradition and family traditions.
“When you go back home, you do a lot of things the same way. You hate it if your parents change something.
“When I heard that BBC 2 were showing The Good Life Christmas special again I was cock-a-hoop, because Margo Leadbetter with the news- paper hat on her head doing a homemade cracker is a great moment and you want to see it again and again.” A BBC spokesman said: “More than 90% of BBC 1’s peak-time schedule is new this year,” adding: “Viewers love a few old favourites at Christmas as well.” Though Mr O’connell said: “Most families will be looking forward to settling down together to watch the box this Christmas, but might be disappointed to find that they’ve seen it all before.” The BBC launched its Christmas schedule earlier this month. It pointed to original programmes such as the drama Luther and Sarah Phelps’ adaptation of Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. There is also a six-part adaptation of Les Miserables and a three-part adaptation of Andrea Levy’s best-selling novel The Long Song. Children’s highlights include Julia Donaldson’s Zog and David Walliams’ The Midnight Gang, plus a new adaptation of Watership Down. Regular series Call the Midwife, Doctor Who, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Eastenders and Strictly Come Dancing will also air.
Lib Dem culture spokeswoman Baroness Bonham Carter pointed to Government funding cuts for the amount of repeats.
She said: “People are paying £150 for their licence fee and therefore will expect a variety of content this Christmas, both old and new.
“The BBC are under great financial pressure as they prepare to cover the loss of Government funding for TV licences for the over-75s.
“Inevitably, the public are having to forfeit content to foot the bill.”
Charlotte Moore, BBC director of content, said: “We’ve got a wonderful array of stars to keep everyone entertained, with the very best in drama, entertainment, comedy and documentaries over the festive period. There is something for everyone.”
People love a bit of repeats as Christmas is about traditions BBC’S KATE PHILLIPS JUSTIFIES FESTIVE LINE-UP
RE-RUNS Emma & Dawn, Vicar of Dibley
Michelle Williams in the title role of the film which has been on before MY WEEK WITH MARILYN DAD’S ARMY PORRIDGEMORECAMBE & WISEROYLE FAMILY VICAR OF DIBLEY
BOSS Charlotte Moore