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Friday, 16 August, 2002, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
BBC hits back at 'humdrum' tag
Holby City
Holby City was singled out by Mr Bolt
A BBC executive has hit back at criticisms that its programming is "humdrum", calling the comments by a TV watchdog hugely patronising to viewers.

Paul Bolt, director of the Broadcasting Standards Commission, criticised shows such as Mersey Beat and Holby City as too "formulaic".

But BBC head of drama Jane Tranter said she was surprised at his comments and his decision to single out programmes.

She was also concerned that Mr Bolt had stepped outside his remit in challenging the corporation in what she called "personal comments".

Mersey Beat
Mersey Beat has been a ratings success for BBC One

"His opinions not only feel to me to be hugely patronising to the millions of viewers who enjoy popular dramas like Holby City - week in, week out - but his examples are also highly selective," she said.

"If they were all we did, it might be fair comment - or at least it would be if Mr Bolt wasn't the director of the BSC. But it is very clearly not the whole story."

In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Bolt said he felt the BBC should be focusing more on innovative programming rather than sticking to tried and tested ones.

Objective

"One begins to wonder what really is the point of the BBC bringing this to us," he said.

Ms Tranter questioned whether it was in keeping with his role as an "objective and unbiased regulator" to make such personal public judgements.

"Over the past twelve months the BBC has launched 17 brand new dramas on BBC One alone, and our output has ranged from the Bafta Award-winning The Way We Live Now via Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and Spooks, to the more challenging Crime and Punishment," said Ms Tranter.

"Would he also argue that these programmes are `humdrum, over-familiar and formulaic'?"

Although Mr Bolt had praise for the BBC's news coverage he said the corporation should be subject to similar fines if it breached programme standards.

Since Greg Dyke became director general in 2000, the BBC has beaten ITV's ratings.

Last year the BBC's audience share rose to 38.4% - while ITV's dropped to 25.7%.

See also:

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