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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 15:12 GMT
Comedy writer hits out at BBC One
Writer Andy Hamilton
Hamilton said BBC One focused on ratings, not developing shows
Writer Andy Hamilton has criticised the "depressing" state of BBC One comedy after his sitcom series Trevor's World Of Sport was "dragged off air".

Mr Hamilton, who also wrote Bedtime and Drop the Dead Donkey, wrote in the Independent that the channel was now too occupied with ratings.

He said he would not write for BBC One again after Trevor's World Of Sport was "puzzlingly" moved around the schedule.

A BBC spokesperson declined to comment on Mr Hamilton's views.

Mr Hamilton wrote that it was now "difficult to grow new comedies" because the BBC was too concerned with how many viewers they got.

Footballers Robbie Keane and Graeme Le Saux in Trevor's World of Sport
Trevor's World of Sport often included cameos from sportsmen
"Ideas on casting have to be flushed through the narrowing stackpipe of celebrity," he wrote.

"Laughter tracks are imposed on shows that weren't designed to have them (because, supposedly, this boosts the figures).

"Shows are pressured to incorporate the conservative tastes of focus groups."

He also talked about "audience insight managers" who sat in on meetings and claimed to make the case for what viewers wanted to see, but actually harmed originality.

'Failure'

The corporation moved Trevor's World of Sport from its original Friday prime-time slot after three episodes because it was seen as a failure in the ratings, he wrote.

Its first episode attracted an average of 3.4 million viewers, dropping to 2.9 million for the second and third episodes.

Trevor's World of Sport was then moved to the 2235 timeslot on Mondays.

It was replaced by repeats of Only Fools and Horses, which went on to attract about five million viewers per week.

Critical view

But Mr Hamilton said his show had received an "extraordinarily enthusiastic" verdict from critics when it first appeared.

"Of course, BBC One shouldn't let the critics lead it by the nose, but such a wide consensus indicates that we made a piece of high-quality television," he wrote.

He also pledged to give £1,000 to anyone who could find a BBC One comedy that premièred to better reviews in the last 15 years.

The opening episode of Trevor's World of Sport was described as "a gem" by The Independent on Sunday, "very promising" by The Mirror and "promising" by The Times.

The Observer wrote it was "not unenjoyable" and had "creaky writing" while The Sun said it was "not half as good" as Drop the Dead Donkey.


SEE ALSO:
BBC reveals 'favourite sitcoms'
30 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
BBC boosts female comedy talent
29 Dec 03  |  Entertainment
Sketch show revives sitcom stars
14 Dec 03  |  Entertainment


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