Entertainment & Arts

Steven Berkoff slates BBC programmes as 'garbage'

Stephen Berkoff
Image caption The actor said the BBC should not compete with its rivals, ITV

Actor and playwright Steven Berkoff has slated the BBC for broadcasting "garbage", criticising the "decay of art" and saying he watched its output "almost with tears".

He made his comments during an interview at the Edinburgh Fringe with BBC Radio 2 broadcaster Johnnie Walker.

Berkoff, 76, said the BBC should not be competing with ITV.

"The BBC is meant to represent values - honesty, decency, values - ITV is not," he told Walker.

"Why should they compete? ITV does that stinking, sodding Coronation Street until you get brained out. Then the BBC comes out with that stinky, slobbing, cliched, mindless moronic EastEnders," said Berkoff.

'Silly old tarts'

Berkoff's extensive career has included writing, directing and acting on both stage and screen.

He came to public attention in the Stanley Kubrick films A Clockwork Orange and Barry Lyndon, and became a household name playing villains in films such as Octopussy and Rambo: First Blood Part II.

However he has also won considerable acclaim for his work in productions such as Sinking the Belgrano!, East and his one-man show, Shakespeare's Villains.

Interviewed as part of Johnnie Walker's Guest Night, Berkoff recalled how, as a teenager, he was inspired by Saturday night BBC programmes such as Hamlet and Death of a Salesman.

"That educated me," he said.

He attacked the popular BBC series Luther and described ITV's period drama Downton Abbey, which is shown in more than 100 countries, as "a lot of silly old tarts in costume".

"It says nothing to us," he added.

The outspoken star did not confine his criticisms to the BBC, also criticising Hollywood actors for their reluctance to take on stage roles, including Johnny Depp, who appeared alongside him in the film The Tourist, in 2010.

According to the Daily Telegraph, he claimed that the theatre "has not produced a single actor of worth" in 30 years, adding that "there is more talent in street performing".

Berkoff is currently on stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in An Actor's Lament about 'the bizarre lives of actors and the many frustrations, complexes and madness they are at times prone to'.

The BBC has yet to respond to Berkoff's views. ITV declined to comment.

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