David Dimbleby was wrong to say that BBC4 should be abolished and absorbed into BBC2, its boss Cassian Harrison has said.
In a firm rebuff to the BBC grandee’s suggestion, Harrison said that BBC4 was crucial for the Corporation.
“I know some people have made some carping comments about [BBC4] recently in the press,” said Harrison at a BBC dinner last night marking its new science programmes.
“It’s important to say BBC4 remains, and it’s been absolutely made clear to me and everybody else involved, that it is absolutely central to what [BBC director general] Tony Hall thinks and what everybody thinks is the future and the future vision of the BBC.
“BBC4 has one thing which is unique across the portfolio of channels of the BBC. Fundamentally, it is the most loved channel of all the channels we have. Basically, the people that watch BBC4 content enjoy it and love it and think it’s brilliant – more than anything else we do.”
Harrison – who is the first editor of the channel, which is ultimately overseen by BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow – said that BBC4 offered viewers “an amazing journey” into a “secret garden” of programmes.
He added that a surprisingly diverse demographic watches the channel devoutly.
Last week, Dimbleby told Richard Bacon on 5Live that the BBC should be dramatically slimmed down and that it should “cut out some of the gardening and the cookery” on TV and merge BBC4 with BBC2.
While Harrison’s response had a hint of dimplocy about them, senior sources suggest that a number of BBC executives were furious about Dimbleby’s intervention.