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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
BBC chief predicts creative haven

Alan Yentob: "There will be an expectation that the BBC will deliver."
Alan Yentob, the new head of BBC entertainment, drama and films, has predicted creativity will thrive in the corporation against cut-throat profit demands of big business.

Yentob, who moved to his new job from being director of television, said the non-financial rewards offered by the BBC would become more important as independent television companies were bought up.

Stars, programme-makers and executives in the independent sector would increasingly find themselves part of "big companies where the profit and loss line is very important," he said.

"I think people might feel more comfortable working for the BBC. Talent might well find more significant rewards from the BBC, both in terms of job satisfaction and, frankly, perfectly decent, substantial financial rewards.

"The BBC's going to be here in seven year's time, at the least. What about Carlton and United, and all those companies? Pearson? They might be bought by Warner-AOL, Carlton might be bought by United, or it might merge with Granada, God knows what might happen.

"There's a real security here [at the BBC], a safe creative environment in which people can flourish."



This Life makers turn their attention to the internet
Yentob, 53, who during the Birt era was recognised by many as the corporation's "creative conscience", was himself rumoured to be considering a move into the private sector himself. One report said he was being considered as a new head for the Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency.

His new role, announced by director general Greg Dyke on Monday, sees him retain responsibility for fostering creativity in television entertainment and drama, and for overseeing the expansion of BBC Films.

The emphasis for entertainment and drama should be on innovation, he said, and the corporation needed to find ways of entertaining people in an ambitious and original way.

One example of innovation is the forthcoming BBC Two drama called Dot.com, made by the producers of This Life and The Cops, which will trace the fortunes of a internet start-up team of thirtysomethings.



"It's about a collaborative culture"
And one of the most heralded parts of Yentob's new remit is the expansion of BBC Films, which is having its budget trebled amid hopes that it can match the achievement of Channel Four's Film Four in producing acclaimed films such as Trainspotting.

BBC Films has had its own successes, such as Mrs Brown, but Yentob said he hoped that by creating partnerships with other bodies such as Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks, there could be greater success.

"This is a very timely moment to be doing this, because there's a lot of money around, but there are not enough ideas around. It's not just a matter of Britain going it alone, think of Sam Mendes, there are partnerships which can be made," he said.

"With the right kind of leadership and projects, and joint ventures, the BBC can make a contribution to British culture, and to the movie business, all at the same time.

"I want to see British talent in the foreground."

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