A Channel 5 boss has rejected calls from ministers for more ‘distinctively British’ TV shows, saying that the channel’s schedule is ‘not Government-led’.
Head of programming Ben Frow questioned plans to make it a legal requirement for public broadcasters to preserve programmes that ‘could only have been made in the United Kingdom’.
He told The Times: ‘I don’t really know what the Government meant. My job is to look at the schedule, make sure there’s a nice variety and try to second guess the audience.
‘I am viewer-led, I am not Government-led when it comes to creative ideas.’
He also argued that Channel 5 has a record of producing shows that reflect British values, like Our Yorkshire Farm and Coastal Devon and Cornwall With Michael Portillo.
The Government proposals, announced by then media minister John Whittingdale in September, have been blasted by the likes of actor David Tennant, who suggested they were an attempt to push for more politically favourable programming.
Whittingdale said at the time that the UK’s public service broadcasters will be required to produce ‘distinctively British’ content, saying: ‘If it’s set in Britain and made in Britain by our public service broadcasters, then it should be distinctively British.’
Examples of ‘distinctively British’ content given by the then-minister included Blackadder, Fleabag, Gogglebox and Derry Girls
Pointing to high viewing figures from different areas across the UK, including Yorkshire, the Midlands and Scotland, Mr Frow said Channel 5 is ‘of the people, for the people’.
‘We’re not highfalutin, we’re not snooty, we don’t look down on our audience, we’re not patronising,’ he said.
It comes after Tory MPs backed the idea of God Save The Queen being played every day at 1am once the day’s programming has come to an end.
While speaking to MPs in the House of Commons, Culture Minister Chris Philp said that in his opinion, ‘the more we hear the national anthem sung, frankly, the better’, after a colleague of his in the Conservative Party suggested that it be played by the BBC on a daily basis when the TV schedule has finished.