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Jennifer Saunders accuses BBC of dumbing down comedy

Posted by smeddum on November 11, 2008

Jennifer Saunders accuses BBC of dumbing down comedy
Jennifer Saunders has blamed dumbing down at the BBC for prompting her to quit the Corporation together with comedy partner Dawn French.

By Charlotte Bailey
Telegraph 20 Oct 2008

Saunders, 50, said that financial restraints and competition from digital channels has meant that the BBC has been less willing to take on ambitious work, instead focusing on ‘populist’ comedy.
The mother of three, who is married to fellow comic Adrian Edmondson, told a newspaper columnist at The Daily Mail that the Corporation’s attitude to comedy has changed.
She said: “They are not making the kind of comedy we used to do – what they want now is populist programmes because there isn’t the budget to try the more ambitious things we were doing.
“We’ve been stopped from doing lots of sketches we wanted to do. The budgets for that kind of more ambitious stuff just aren’t there now. Really, that’s the reason we’ve decided to stop.”
French & Saunders, who are currently appearing in the West End on the last leg of their tour Still Alive, have been gracing our screens for more than 20 years.
They met in 1978 while studying at The Central School For Speech and Drama and made their name producing hilarious spoofs of films, such as The Exorcist and Silence Of The Lambs.
However, Saunders said that there is no longer a place for the type of comedy which first made them famous.
She said: “We used to do a total mix, but now they only want you to do the populist stuff. If you go to them with something like Fellini now they just say: “No, no one will know who that is, it’s not popular enough.
“The problem is that when we were on the BBC we were getting audiences of eight million, but with all these channels on digital and Sky and the internet, the audience has spread and you don’t get those kind of numbers. Now you’re lucky if it’s three million.
“So they just stick to the populist comedy – and that’s what comedy on television is all like now.”

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