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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Dr Who praised at TUC conference
Billie Piper and Christopher Eccleston
Piper and Eccleston starred in the first Doctor Who series for 16 years
Writers have praised BBC One hit sci-fi series Doctor Who at the TUC annual conference in Brighton, in a call for more funding for UK TV productions.

It showed there was "still an audience for quality family entertainment", the Writers' Guild of Great Britain said.

The union said there was no substitute for "well-resourced, home-grown drama and comedy material written, performed and produced in the UK".

But member Hugh Stoddart criticised the BBC for what he called "damaging cuts".

'Talking point'

The writers' union congratulated the BBC for the success of Doctor Who, which returned to TV in March after a 16-year break.

It starred Christopher Eccleston and Billie Piper as the Doctor and his assistant, Rose.

The union - which represents UK writers in TV, film, radio, theatre, animation and books - called for further BBC investment in programme-making to build upon the show's success.

"The popularity of the series demonstrates that there is still an audience for quality family entertainment, and that distinctive UK television productions can still provide a talking point for the nation," Mr Stoddart said.

He believed that "while some imports and so-called 'reality' shows have their place in the schedules, they cost jobs and reduce opportunities for workers in our television industry".

'Preserve jobs'

"At a time of damaging cuts throughout the BBC, and massive expansion of the independent TV production sector, Congress calls on the BBC to maintain a fully-staffed, fully funded in-house drama and comedy production capability, and to increase rather than cut its output.

"In this way jobs and skills can be preserved, and UK television audiences can only benefit."

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain motion was supported at the Trades Union Congress (TUC) conference.

Billie Piper and David Tennant
Tennant inherited the Doctor Who role at the end of the last series
Last year BBC director general Mark Thompson announced plans to shed 20% of the BBC's workforce over the next three years, representing 3,780 jobs, in order to cut costs.

The corporation said it would reinvest the money in new programmes.

The Writers' Guild of Great Britain also called on the government "to provide an adequate above-inflation licence fee settlement" for the BBC.

The next series of Doctor Who, starring new lead actor David Tennant, is being filmed in London and Wales.

A Christmas special is due to be broadcast at Christmas, followed by a 13-part series next year.




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