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Monday, May 31, 1999 Published at 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK


TV chiefs meet to sell British shows

Changing Rooms' format has been sold worldwide

Culture Secretary Chris Smith is meeting with some of the UK's top TV executives this week as part of a government drive to help sell British programmes around the world.

Teletubbies, Ballykissangel and Vanity Fair have already been worldwide hits, and entertainment formats such as Surprise, Surprise and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? are now seen on screens across the globe.

Senior figures from the BBC, the ITV broadcasters and independent producers will join Mr Smith on Wednesday to thrash out ways of making the UK more competitive - and build on an industry worth £6 billion each year.

The government launched an inquiry into increasing exports after a report, Building A Global Audience, looked at the position of UK TV shows in the world market.

The meeting will set out the scope of the inquiry, set up under Mr Smith's Creative Industries Task Force.

Dramas 'too depressing'

[ image: Teletubbies creator Anne Wood: Smith wants more show to follow in the programme's footsteps]
Teletubbies creator Anne Wood: Smith wants more show to follow in the programme's footsteps
The report found British drama was seen as too depressing, and the length of shows and series did not easily fit in with overseas schedules.

But it noted successes such as David Attenborough's Life Of Birds, Silent Witness and Prime Suspect, as well as Ready Steady Cook and Changing Rooms.

It said the UK's biggest successes were in science and wildlife shows, developing entertainment formats and in visual comedy, such as Mr Bean, which leap the language barrier.

Mr Smith said: "We are one of the most creative nations on earth, as the many TV programmes which have been hits in countries across the globe show.

"The fact that so many programmes, ranging from thrillers and detective series to natural history and children's programmes, are all proving popular across the world is evidence of the talent and imagination in the British television history."

The inquiry panel includes Carlton Productions managing director, Lord Alli - who as Waheed Alli helped set up The Big Breakfast's producers Planet 24 - and BBC Worldwide chief executive Rupert Gavin.

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