The BBC has hit back at the scathing attack launched on its drama output by Granada's new drama chief and former head of youth at BBC Manchester John Whiston, claiming he's taken on the role of a pantomime villain, writes Katy Elliot
The BBC has hit back at the scathing attack launched on its drama output by Granada's new drama chief and former head of youth at BBC Manchester John Whiston, claiming he's taken on the role of a pantomime villain, writes Katy Elliot

Whiston yesterday accused the corporation of producing copycat ITV dramas and refusing to take risks at the same time as failing to pull in big enough ratings. 'Imbued in all they do is self preservation - and that's not a great liberator. Anything dangerous and they build in a safety net.

?All their lesbians are Victorian - they are quite happy to tip the velvet but they wouldn't dare tip the polyester?..the BBC so wants to be loved - that oozes oilily out of its pores.'

He said that copycat programming was so instilled in BBC culture that it had even begun to copy its own programming with Holby City a spin off of Casualty. Whiston also claimed that BBC 1 should not have aired The Project because it was not populist enough. He said that the political satire should have been shown on BBC 2.

He claimed that ITV's 'titanic struggle' with ITV over the rights to Agatha Christie - including BBC stalwart Miss Marple did not constitute 'copycat programming'. He said that although the 'lavishly funded' corporation had bid more, ITV had won the deal because of the passion of its controllers and its ability to draw in bigger audiences.

A BBC Drama spokesman said: 'Pantomime villains obviously have their place in Miss Marple but we're surprised that John Whiston has taken on the role himself.

'We're incredibly proud to have a drama slate this year that is diverse enough to encompass Spooks and Out of Control, Cutting It and Flesh and Blood, Tipping The Velvet and The Project, Babyfather and Waking The Dead. As well as the forthcoming Daniel Deronda, Jeffrey Archer - The Truth and The Hound of the Baskervilles. We wish John Whiston all the best in his new job - strong ITV drama is good for all of us.'

According to Barb figures ITV 1 and BBC 1 always compete neck on neck each week for the highest rated dramas. During the autumn period Monarch of the Glen, Casualty, Silent Witness, Waking the Dead and Holby City have proved huge ratings bankers for BBC 1. For ITV 1 Heartbeat, The Bill, Daddy's Girl and Fat Friends have attracted more than 7 million viewers.

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