TV boss claims ‘view­ers love watch­ing old shows’ at Xmas

Daily Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - FRONT PAGE - BY TOM BRYANT and BEN GLAZE

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

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