BBC4 is “a little too blokey”

Leading independent suppliers reveal the BBC is encouraging them to pitch more female-skewed shows to the channel

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It is the channel which has brought us comedies like the Thick of It and Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe, dramas like The Curse of Steptoe, and innumerable fantastic science and history documentaries.

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However there appears to be a feeling within the Corporation that BBC4 is a little too “blokey” and needs to have more programming for – and involving – women.

RadioTimes.com understands that independent producers who make programmes for the channel have been told by commissioners for BBC4 that ideas with a feminine touch have a good chance of making it to screen and that some of the content is a little too male-oriented.

“There is nothing set in stone or written down or formalised, but that has been the informal direction of travel,” a senior producer revealed. “Off the record we are being told that it may be an idea to pitch ideas that are less male, less blokey.”

Another added: “The feeling in some quarters is that the BBC want BBC4 to be a little less blokey and to attract more women to the channel – as viewers and as talent.”

It is understood that BBC4 has a more male viewers than women in its audience, a point confirmed by the channel’s former boss, Richard Klein at last August’s Edinburgh TV festival when he admitted that the channel has a “heavy male skewing” but that this was not a “deliberate” policy. He also said he was keen to explore more “female perspectives”.

Klein has recently left the channel and his duties have been temporarily taken over by BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow.

A BBC4 spokeswoman insisted that there was no formal policy to change the approach of the channel and said that there was “no change of direction”. But the Corporation was unable to supply figures analysing the gender breakdown of viewers to BBC4 and other BBC channels.

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A statement said that the channel “has long had a proud track record of supporting and developing female talent, including Helen Castor, Janina Ramirez, Victoria Coren, Rachel Johnson and Catharine Edwards and we very much hope to continue with this in the future.”