Stephen Fry said the BBC has been hit by a culture of ‘fear’ which results in ‘incredibly bland’ programmes.

The host of BBC One comedy show QI told the Radio Times that BBC executives with ‘cold feet’ were shying away from taking risks – and warned it spelt death for a creative institution.

The BBC has been hit by rows over taste and decency following the Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand scandal, and criticisms of the salaries of its top stars and executives.

Fry, 53, said of BBC culture: “There is this thing, I call it interfering…

“I do know of so many cases where executives would say, ‘What we want is something new, something different, something extraordinary!’ And they’re brought something new, different and extraordinary and immediately the executive gets cold feet, falls back on something else and we end up with something incredibly bland.

“A lot of the adventure and excitement have gone out of television programming – and a lot of it is just down to fear,” the actor, comedian, writer and TV personality said.

“It basically comes down to one thing: it’s so much easier now in the BBC, because all the incentives and all the motives are towards saying no to something. You can’t really go wrong by saying no to an idea – and for a creative institution, that’s death.”

Fry said that although he was treated very well by the BBC, the days when programme-makers were allowed to come up with ideas without interference from management appeared to be gone.