Page last updated at 11:20 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 12:20 UK

Spacey complains over BBC shows

Kevin Spacey
Spacey is starring in Speed-the-Plow at the Old Vic in London

Actor and theatre director Kevin Spacey has criticised the BBC for airing talent shows such as Any Dream Will Do and I'd Do Anything.

"I felt that was essentially a 13-week promotion for a musical - where's our 13-week programme?" Spacey said.

The Hollywood star is artistic director at the Old Vic theatre in London.

"I have spoken to your chairman but he has yet to get back to me," Spacey said. The BBC replied that its shows were not "unduly promotional".

"These Saturday night shows celebrate musical theatre generally, not just one West End show," said Elaine Bedell, controller of entertainment commissioning.

"The BBC is committed to finding and supporting new musical talent as part of its longstanding commitment as a patron of the arts."

'Crossing the line'

Speaking to BBC entertainment reporter Colin Paterson, Spacey said it was "great" people were getting "interested in the West End and theatres".

However, he said he thought the BBC's talent shows were "crossing the line" and "unfair".

The 12 finalists for I'd Do Anything
I'd Do Anything finalists battle it out for the role of Nancy in Oliver!

He suggested the corporation instead broadcast a series about the theatre "to help kids find their own sense of self-esteem, confidence and ability to collaborate".

"These are interesting ideas, but they're not sexy so maybe they don't want to put them on air," he said while promoting his latest film 21.

Spacey said it was time to start building the next generation of theatregoers. "If we don't, we'll lose them all to TV," he warned.

He also said he would like to see the return of Play For Today, the landmark BBC series that produced Mike Leigh's Abigail's Party and Ken Loach's Cathy Come Home.

Judging panel

How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria? and Any Dream Will Do scoured the country for hopefuls to star in Andrew Lloyd Webber's productions of The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

I'd Do Anything is currently seeking to find its Nancy and Oliver for a new staging of Lionel Bart's musical version of Oliver Twist.

It can be seen as a promotion for a musical, but it can also be seen as decent family entertainment
Rob, Leicester

Oliver! is being produced by Sir Cameron Mackintosh, though Lord Lloyd-Webber remains on the judging panel.

The BBC said it "always reflected" other West End shows in its talent programmes.

It also pointed out the corporation had no commercial interest in the West End productions of Oliver!, Joseph or The Sound Of Music.

Spacey is currently starring in David Mamet's play Speed-the-Plow at the Old Vic.

Gambling drama 21, the number one film in North America over the weekend, is released in the UK on 11 April.

Finalists unveiled for Nancy role
22 Mar 08 |  Entertainment
No viewer vote for BBC's Oliver
13 Mar 08 |  Entertainment
BBC search to find Oliver! boys
21 Dec 07 |  Entertainment
Lee becomes Joseph in TV victory
09 Jun 07 |  Entertainment
Connie wins Maria talent contest
17 Sep 06 |  Entertainment
Actors angry at arts funding cuts
10 Jan 08 |  Entertainment


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