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Garnett savages BBC drama output

Programmaker hits out at 'high-volume junk'

LONDON — One of the U.K.’s foremost TV drama producers has denounced the BBC in scathing terms, accusing it of stifling creativity and backing “high-volume junk.”

Tony Garnett, whose hits for the corp. have included “This Life” and “The Cops,” depicts the pubcaster as a top-heavy institution hampered by too many “well-meaning” execs whose job it is “to put spanners in the works.”

He added: “The main effect… is to stifle the creativity which the organization is supposed to be encouraging.”

In a widely circulated blog, he added: “Working in art, film or commercial cinema is like dancing through a minefield, and every broadcaster is now racing downmarket in a desperate attempt to survive.

“But what is happening at the BBC is the real scandal: it is bigger than all the rest combined, it is free from direct commercial pressure and its public service obligations carry cultural responsibilities. There are no excuses.”

Garnett blasted the BBC for diluting authors’ voices and for financing “high volume junk” in a “cynical” attempt to win high ratings at the expense genuine quality.

The septuagenarian Garnett, chairman of shingle World Productions, helped revolutionize British TV drama in the 1960s with the seminal “Cathy Come Home.”

He continued to make an impact in the 1990s thanks to shows like “Between the Lines” and the previously mentioned “The Cops” and “This Life.”

But recent reports suggest that World Productions has been badly affected by the economic downturn.

A BBC spokeswoman said: “We welcome open and honest debate about the state of drama and the creative process but we believe the quality and range of drama on the BBC speaks for itself.”

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