Crime writer Lynda La Plante has attacked the BBC’s commissioning policy, claiming the corporation’s drama team would rather take a script by a “little Muslim boy” than one she had written.
La Plante, the creator of Prime Suspect, the award-winning detective series starring Helen Mirren, told the Daily Telegraph she found the BBC drama commissioning process “very depressing”.
She said: “If my name were Usafi Iqbadal and I was 19, then they’d probably bring me in and talk.
“But … it’s their lack of respect that really grates on me.”
Her comments come after another leading crime writer PD James, a former BBC governor, criticised the corporation for falling standards, saying it was difficult to see how programmes such as Britain’s Most Embarrassing Pets, Dog Borstal and Help Me Anthea, I’m Infested qualified as public service broadcasting.
Baroness James also said that the “extraordinarily large salaries” awarded to BBC managers were “very difficult indeed to justify”.
La Plante told the Daily Telegraph: “If you were to go to the BBC and say to them, ‘Listen, Lynda La Plante’s written a new drama, or I have this little Muslim boy who’s just written one’, they’d say: ‘Oh, we’d like to see his script’.
“Whether they’re just frightened of me being an independent, and quite a powerful independent, I don’t know.”
La Plante, whose TV hits include Widows, Trial and Retribution and Above Suspicion, said she was also irked at having to go through “a retinue of people” before “you get to the god, Ben Stephenson (BBC controller of drama)”.
Mr Stephenson responded that he did not understand La Plante’s comments because “Lynda had two pieces in development with us”.
He told the newspaper: “She has one piece at the moment, and one piece that we paid fully for the script development.
“She wrote the script but ultimately we decided that we didn’t share the vision for that project so we parted. So she absolutely got in the door.”