Page last updated at 16:42 GMT, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Hare attacks 'unimaginative' BBC

Sir David Hare
Sir David Hare was knighted in 1998 for services to drama

Playwright Sir David Hare has accused the BBC of lacking imagination, saying the corporation should be devoting more of its resources to single dramas.

"It's an organisation that has lost its nerve," the 61-year-old said in a talk at the National Film Theatre in London.

"They don't see fiction as something people are interested in watching."

A BBC spokesman said it was "a shame" that Hare thought it had abandoned the single drama, "given it produces around 30 new pieces each year."

Last year the BBC screened an adaptation of Sir David's own stage play My Zinc Bed, starring Uma Thurman and Jonathan Pryce.

Speaking on Tuesday, the playwright also accused the corporation of being "incredibly stupid" in "putting its claim for the future on the fact it's a newsgathering organisation".

'Unexpected'

"The commercial sector can do news just as well," he continued. "What the BBC used to do very well is fiction."

The playwright's comments followed a screening of two of his early TV plays at the National Film Theatre.

Uma Thurman in My Zinc Bed
Uma Thurman appeared in the BBC's adaptation of My Zinc Bed
Sir David, whose most recent play Gethsemene is running at the National Theatre, went on to accuse the corporation of having no vision for the future.

"There doesn't seem to be anyone at the BBC with the vision to say what it is trying to do."

The playwright, whose other plays include Plenty and The Absence of War, did accept the BBC "does genre fiction very well".

"What it doesn't do is the unexpected, especially on its majority channels," he claimed.

But the BBC defended its record, suggesting TV drama had moved on.

"The argument that it is only in the single drama that writers can be bold and imaginative is a somewhat outdated notion," said its spokesman.

'Forward-thinking'

"Some of the most creative work being done in drama today can be seen in series and serials such as Ashes to Ashes, Spooks, House Of Saddam and Criminal Justice.

"To ignore the work being done here by talented, forward-thinking writers is to miss the point of how drama exists in the modern television age."

One of the country's most respected and outspoken playwrights, Sir David is also an Oscar- and Bafta-nominated screenwriter.

He was recently nominated for a Golden Globe for his work on The Reader, starring Kate Winslet and Ralph Fiennes.

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