BBC boss admits costly flops

BBC boss Mark Thompson admits the Beeb has made some flops during the past year, particularly Castaway, The Innocence Project and the BBC2 revival of This Life.

But his annual report also points out their notable successes, like How Do You Solve a Problem Like Maria? and The Apprentice.

Director-General Thompson said the BBC had to rise to the challenge after the BBC Trust survey found audiences wanted more new and exciting shows.

He pointed to innovative successes such as Planet Earth and The Manchester Passion, before adding: “But it’s interesting to hear so strongly from the public the message that they want more experimentation and risk-taking. That’s something I hope the BBC can rise to.”

Thompson said other channels were now copying BBC formats such as Maria and The Apprentice.

Although he did not name their imitators, the formats have been replicated by ITV1’s Grease Is The Word and Tycoon.

The Annual Report praised dramas Life On Mars and Doctor Who as examples of what the BBC does best. The Jane Eyre adaptation, Billie Piper drama Ruby In The Smoke, documentary series Trawlermen and Stephen Fry’s The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive were also hailed as success stories.

But he admitted that some shows flopped, including Castaway, the original reality show which was brought back with great fanfare but proved to be a ratings disaster.

Other TV failures singled out in the report included the This Life revival, political thriller The State Within and legal drama The Innocence Project.

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