Page last updated at 15:28 GMT, Thursday, 19 March 2009

Who writer begs lotto for TV cash

Russell T Davies

Doctor Who writer Russell T Davies has called for national lottery money to be given to children's programmes.

In a speech to Bafta members, Davies said: "They put money into rubbish films, why can't they put money into children's television?"

Davies makes the Sarah Jane Adventures for CBBC but says budget cuts nearly cancelled his show three times.

Last month the BBC's governing body called for action to stop the decline in ratings for children's programmes.

The BBC Trust said that scheduling changes had contributed to the fall in viewing figures.

Davies echoed this in his speech by explaining that, after BBC One replaced Neighbours with the Weakest Link his Doctor Who spin-off, the Sarah Jane Adventures was pushed back in the schedule. It then lost 300,000 viewers.

He called for work to begin on changing the BBC guidelines to enable lottery money to fund children's television. "It needs to be a special case" he argued.

"They're our children, they're the most vital and precious resource you could ever find. It is more important than industry, it is more important than the economy, it is more important than food and education."

Davies worked in children's television at the start of his career. He produced Why Don't You?, wrote for ChuckleVision and picked up a Bafta for his writing on Children's Ward.

'Truly shocking'

In his speech he called the state of children's television "truly frightening", pointing out that it had disappeared from ITV and was the first thing to be squeezed by budget cuts on other outlets.

The third series of the Sarah Jane Adventures was hit by budget constraints. Davies said: "We had to look and say, do we want to make a version of Sarah Jane that's a travesty?

"It was truly shocking to have a successful show having to face cuts which are that severe" he continued.

The writer pointed out that different BBC departments had pulled together to rustle up the money which the programme needed to continue but that, in general, "children's (TV) is sinking lower and lower down the agenda".

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