David Attenborough: I don’t know what BBC2 stands for any more

Veteran broadcaster and former BBC2 controller says that he does not know what guides the editorial decisions on the channel he used to run

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David Attenborough, the legendary natural history presenter and former BBC2 controller, says that he does not know what the BBC2’s editorial aims are any more.

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In an interview with this week’s Radio Times magazine, Attenborough, who ran BBC2 between 1965 and 1969, said: “I’m not sure how they would define its policy. I would be seriously interested to know, in a paragraph, not necessarily a sentence, what guides them, what guides the editorial decisions on BBC2, because it isn’t overly plain to me.

“I guess that BBC4 has taken on perhaps the invention and experimental side of BBC2, but it wouldn’t harm them to say so. You know, if they said, ‘That’s what we’re going to do.’ But they don’t actually say it.”

The 88-year-old conceded that when he took over the channel in the mid-1960s he was catering for a largely metropolitan audience because most viewers outside London could not receive the BBC2 signal.

“It was easy enough for me to say, ‘Yes, I’m only going to do something that is new and unique,’ but it’s difficult to do that now. At the same time I can’t tell whether a programme is on BBC1 or BBC2 just by watching it.”

A BBC spokeswoman declined to comment on Attenborough’s remarks.

As RadioTimes.com revealed in September, Attenborough is heading off to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to film his next landmark nature series for BBC1. Some of the series will be shot in 3D for a potential IMAX project.

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The new issue of Radio Times magazine is on sale from Tuesday 14 October in the shops and on Newsstand for iPad or iPhone