Leave Financial Considerations Out Of Decisions On BBC, Says Andrew Scott

Leave Financial Considerations Out Of Decisions On BBC, Says Andrew Scott

Sherlock star Andrew Scott has urged the Government to leave financial concerns out of decisions made about the BBC as the Culture Secretary prepares to publish his White Paper on the future of the broadcaster.

The actor shot to fame as Moriarty in the hit BBC adaptation starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and recently played King Louis XI of France in the BBC's Shakespeare mini-series The Hollow Crown and villainous C in James Bond film Spectre.

Speaking on the red carpet at the premiere of his new film, Alice Through The Looking Glass, Scott said: "I really hope the question of finance is left out as you can't make decisions about what the public should be allowed to watch based on how much money you think it's going to make for shareholders. Long live the BBC!"

Scott also promised he will not always plays dastardly characters on screen, saying more lovable parts are in the pipeline. He added: "The crazy people are coming out one after the other. It came as a result of Sherlock but next year I won't be playing lunatics. It will stop soon, I promise."

The Government will reportedly publish its White Paper on Thursday but a senior peer has urged Culture Secretary John Whittingdale to publish while Parliament is sitting, rather than trying to "sneak it out".

Lord Lester of Herne Hill, the Liberal Democrat QC, has written to Mr Whittingdale calling on him to publish his plans while politicians and peers can scrutinise them.

In a statement, he said: "The Government must not be allowed to sneak out their White Paper on the BBC on Thursday when Parliament is away.

"It is vital that proper scrutiny is given to what the Government is proposing for the future of this important institution. We need to maintain the crucial role played by an independent BBC, and Liberal Democrats will continue to call out Government plans to stifle proper debate.

"Parliament must be given a chance to do its job and dissect what the Government proposes for the future of the BBC before they attempt to kick the issue into the long grass."

Lord Lester will table a private member's bill on the day of the Queen's Speech which will challenge Mr Whittingdale's plans for the BBC.

His letter to the Culture Secretary said: "I am concerned at the continuing delay in publishing the White Paper on the BBC Charter.

"I seek your assurances that the Government's proposals will be published before we go into recess on Thursday and that a statement be made in both Houses."

Mr Whittingdale is expected to set out a tougher new regime as part of a proposed deal to grant a new royal charter to safeguard the service for another 11 years.

Reports have suggested the BBC will announce plans at the end of the week to scale down its website, following pressure to do less "soft news", which would include getting rid of online recipes, and magazine and travel content.

The BBC has said the reports are speculation and a statement added: "People know we have been carrying out a review into our online services. The findings will be published in due course."

Speculation has also been rife about whether Mr Whittingdale will force the BBC to publish how much it pays top talent earning more than £150,000.

It has been reported that he could impose scheduling restrictions to stop it showing hit shows like Strictly Come Dancing in prime time, to stop it going head to head with commercial broadcasters.

The BBC has long been criticised for allegedly entering into a ratings war with ITV, by scheduling Strictly Come Dancing in a time slot that competes for Saturday night ratings with The X Factor.

Another area of contention between the BBC and the Government is the question of "top-slicing" the licence fee, which would see the BBC forced to hand over a portion of the licence fee to commercial rivals in areas such as children's television, according to The Guardian.

Prime Minister David Cameron said the corporation is one of the "most recognised brands on the planet" during a speech at the British Museum this week.

Senior peers including Lord Lester have warned that a protest march by the public may ensue should the Government be "stupid" in deciding the future of the BBC.

At Sunday night's TV Bafta awards, Wolf Hall director Peter Kosminsky hit out at the Government, saying it was trying to "eviscerate" the BBC, adding that he felt now "is a dangerous time for broadcasting in Britain".

Oscar winner and star of the popular BBC Two series Mark Rylance added his voice in support of Kosminsky, while collecting the leading actor award for his role as Thomas Cromwell in the Hilary Mantel adaptation.

The White Paper will also be expected to address suggestions by Sir David Clementi, following the results of an independent review into the way the BBC is governed.

The former deputy governor of the Bank of England recommended that the BBC Trust be abolished and the corporation regulated entirely by media watchdog Ofcom.


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