Drama boss Ben Stephenson labels criticism of the BBC “effing nonsense”

The BBC drama controller urged the TV industry to rally round the Corporation during a speech at the Royal Television Society Awards

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BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson urged the TV industry to rally round the Corporation on the same night as BBC shows took home 18 awards at the Royal Television Society Awards.

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Stephenson said that in the face of questions over the future of the licence fee and renewal of the royal charter the industry should “get behind the BBC” and stand up to its critics. 

“There are no more cuts at the BBC, only programmes – time for everyone to get behind the BBC,” said Stephenson, adding “The BBC is always on the front pages for the wrong reasons and it’s effing nonsense.”

BBC dramas Happy Valley, Line of Duty, The Honourable Woman and Marvellous all won at the RTS awards ceremony on Tuesday night. Stephenson himself picked up the Judges’ Award, and was praised by the panel for helping lead British drama into “what many are calling a new golden age.” 

BBC3 – which under current proposals faces closure and a move online – won three awards, beating main channel rivals in the Best Single Drama, Best History and Best Documentary Series categories.

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Melvyn Bragg, who was honoured with the RTS’s Lifetime Achievement Award, also gave his support to the BBC, claiming in his acceptance speech that it is “the greatest broadcasting organisation there is,” and that the government should “leave it alone.”