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Monday, 1 October, 2001, 06:21 GMT 07:21 UK
BBC rejects writer's bias claim
Bleadsale wrote Boys from the Blackstuff
The BBC has dismissed claims of political bias following accusations from dramatist Alan Bleasdale.

Speaking in the Sunday Telegraph, Bleasdale claimed a political satire he was writing based on life under New Labour would be axed if he did not make heavy cuts to it.

His remarks led to a Conservative MP challenging the BBC's ethics in interfering with the script for Running Scared.

We agreed not to do any more work on Running Scared six months ago

BBC spokesman
But the BBC said the project had stalled six months ago when it was mutually decided not to progress with it.

Bleasdale's previous work has included the award-winning Boys from the Blackstuff and The Monocled Mutineer for the BBC and GBH for Channel 4.

The newspaper claimed acclaimed actors such as Robert Lindsey, Julie Walters and Jane Horrocks had been on board for the project and that the dispute had put a halt to pre-production work.

But the BBC said Running Scared had never actually been officially commissioned and that other writers were currently working on a biting New Labour satire.

Bleasdale penned the 1986 drama The Monocled Mutineer
A spokesman said: "This is a project we have been on for a number of years but as sometimes happens the scripts did not come together.

"We agreed not to do any more work on Running Scared six months ago."

'Too close'

Bleasdale's side of the story was that he was being asked to cut six hours worth of script down to just one hour for BBC One.

He said: "I have told them I can't make any more cuts and I can't obey their rules."

The news led to accusations from Conservative MP Michael Fabricant that the BBC was too close to New Labour.

"Questions naturally arise about whether this decision was taken on programming grounds," he told the Sunday Telegraph.

But the BBC spokesman added: "The theme of the project was not a biting New Labour satire as that is being worked on by Peter Kosminsky and Leigh Jackson, the award-wining writers of Warriors."

He also rejected the idea the corporation would interfere with a fictional drama on political grounds, adding that the "voice of the writer is always championed at the BBC".

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