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Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
BBC One chief quashes critics
Lorraine Heggessey
Heggessey started at the BBC as a news trainee in 1979
BBC One chief Lorraine Heggessey has defended her decisions for the channel in her first year of office and outlined her drive for change in the future.

Heggessey made her statement in speech at Bafta in London on Wednesday night.

Her comments about the performance of BBC One were made in direct response to criticims levelled by ITV director of channels David Liddiment earlier in the month.

Liddiment said BBC One was failing to "lead by example" during his speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival.


At the time the BBC dismissed the claims as "headline grabbing" but Heggessey used her Bafta speech to outline BBC One's strengths.

But she added that, despite improvements over the last year, it had "a long way to go".

After showing a tape of the past week's programme highlights on BBC One, Heggessey addressed the audience.

"That's one single week on BBC One and I think you'll agree the range, quality and ambition of those programmes speak for themselves," she said.

"A highly distinctive schedule which shows we're continuing to strive for creative excellence across the board. And I thought it might cheer David Liddiment up."


Heggessey praised her channel in its present state as "vibrant, dynamic and exciting" and "in tune with today's world".

She went on to draw particular attention to the way the image of BBC One had been changed.

When she took it over, audience research showed that most people - even the over-60s - considered BBC One "old-fashioned".

That perception had been softened, she said, by changes including moving comedies such as Gimme, Gimme, Gimme and Have I Got News For You to BBC One.

But, the major improvement, she added, had come through the move of the news from 2100 to 2200, so allowing more flexibility for innovation in the schedule.

'Best job'

"The move of the news has been good for news, good for viewers, and good for the channel," said Heggessey.

Heggessey took over as BBC One chief on 1 November 2000. At that time she described it as the "best job in British television".

BBC One has also recently announced that its overall spending on factual programmes for BBC One is going up by 20%.

Heggessey outlined how the money will be spent.

In her Bafa speech - the first to be given by a woman - Heggessey expressed her continued enthusuasm for the role but admitted to having found her induction period tough.

See also:

14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
First woman to run BBC One
24 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Peaktime viewing gets factual
27 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
ITV Premiership ratings plunge
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Heggessey one year on
25 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC rejects ITV chief's criticism
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