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How the BBC pays contractors

David Smith | 14:44 UK time, Friday, 23 March 2012

Following recent reports about how the BBC pays people who are not permanent members of staff, I thought it might be useful to outline why we do things the way we do.

Permanent members of staff at the BBC pay their taxes through PAYE like most other people up and down the country. However people will often work for us for a fixed period of time on a project before moving on to do similar work for another media company.

So, in common with every other UK broadcaster, the BBC makes extensive use of freelance and service company contracts typically in areas such as acting, directing, editing and other craft skills. Because these people work for a number of different companies in any given year they cannot be treated in the same way as permanent members of staff.

Such arrangements are either in accordance with an HMRC agreement with the TV industry or with the service company legislation introduced by HMRC on 6 April 2000.

The way it works is simple. Freelancers are paid on receipt of invoices for specific pieces of work. Fees vary depending on the nature, value and duration of the work and the degree of specialism which the freelancer or service company provides. People may undertake several different pieces of work during a year for the BBC, for which they will be paid separate and sometimes variable fees on submission of separate invoices.

By using the legislative framework, set down by HMRC, the BBC and other broadcasters can operate the most cost and time effective way of securing the services of an individual, without having to undertake a lengthy detailed review of all their other work. Whether a freelancer decides to set up a service company depends on their individual circumstances. However, once a service company is created the individual, not the BBC, is required under tax legislation to pay the correct tax and National Insurance (please see the HMRC website). That said we cooperate fully with the HMRC and provide them with annual reports of all payments made to individuals who operate service companies and provide them with all details required on any review they undertake.

The BBC has more than 12,000 freelance contributors every year with tens of thousands of contracts being issued for their work. The BBC pays these people in the way that the guidelines require us to. This is not an alternative method for permanent members of staff or any director/non-exec director roles within the organisation, who have their tax and NI contributions deducted in the normal way by the BBC.



David Smith, Head of Employment Tax, BBC

Combining learning with drama: Secrets and Words

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Abigail Appleton Abigail Appleton | 15:15 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

I'm writing this on a train and apart from the odd lurch of the carriage the words come quickly. Before I began writing, I read emails and skimmed some papers without having to make any particular effort to decode letters and words.

It's very easy to take all this for granted but for many people across the UK reading and writing is a struggle. Often they try hard to hide it but experts estimate that as many as one in six adults in England have difficulty with reading and writing in everyday life.

I find that profoundly shocking and hope that Secrets and Words, a week of dramas for BBC One, commissioned by BBC Learning with Daytime, will help raise awareness of the experiences of people with low levels of literacy and give some of them the confidence to seek help.

BBC Learning has a vision to inspire a life full of learning for all our audiences and we work across the BBC to help create powerful opportunities for learning.

This year, for example, we've collaborated with BBC Two's Stargazing LIVE to inspire people to look up at the night sky and find out more; with BBC Three we co-commissioned the new debate programme Free Speech and, with CBeebies, we've just launched The Lingo Show, which aims to give very young audiences fun with words in different languages. In June, BBC Learning is collaborating with Radio 1 and 1xtra, to create a unique academy for 16-19 year olds in Hackney in the run up to Radio 1's Hackney Weekend.

Bob Hoskins as removal man Alf Hunt, who has difficulty reading and writing in 'On the Move', an adult literacy TV programme from the 1970s.

Bob Hoskins as removal man Alf Hunt, who has difficulty reading and writing in 'On the Move', an adult literacy TV programme from the 1970s.

Whilst we range widely across many different areas of learning, one of our key commitments is to literacy. Here the BBC has a significant track record. In the late Seventies, the series On The Move, starring a young Bob Hoskins, was a catalyst in an extremely effective literacy campaign which helped tens of thousands of people. Before commissioning Secrets and Words I watched some of it again and found myself laughing out loud and unable to get the theme tune out of my head for days - here goes - I'm humming it again!

But the world of broadcasting has moved on and though some of the sketches are as fresh as ever, the formal teaching on screen seemed very dated. For Secrets and Words we've been able to create a range of online specialist resources to complement the series.

It was important to BBC Learning and Daytime that the dramas would stand alone as powerful stories and appeal to the widest possible audience. They are about parenting, friendship, bereavement, or getting a new job, and not just literacy. We wanted to avoid some of the stereotypes and show lives in the round, how people from different backgrounds and for different reasons may need help with reading and writing.

We had terrific support from NIACE, The National Institute of Adult Continuing Education, and Sue Southwood of NIACE was series consultant. Sue would offer advice and correct misconceptions but rather wonderfully understood the dramas had to work as television and not a public information campaign.

Tony Maudsley and Julie Graham in 'Love Letters' from the five part series <em>Secrets and Words</em>.

Tony Maudsley and Julie Graham in 'Love Letters' from the five part series Secrets and Words.

Secrets and Words is part of a much wider strategy to enhance the reading and writing skills of different audiences in different ways. With CBeebies we've been thinking about the foundations of good literacy and developed The Rhyme Rocket to inspire very young children around poetry and nursery rhymes. And we're working with The Book Trust and other partners to encourage learning around this new series. But I'm still on the lookout for fresh ideas.

Commissioning should be focused on the interests and needs of our audiences but it's not a science and, for me, the literacy project is also very personal.

When I started school I struggled with reading and, at seven, still could not recognise all the letters of the alphabet. I was put in a special group and remember being jeered at in the playground. Luckily my problems were shortlived, family circumstances changed, in the end my little brother taught me the alphabet, and I thrived.

Now I find it hard to imagine a life without all the pleasure and enrichment, let alone the practical benefits, of reading but this early experience has given me some understanding of the embarrassment and shame so many adults face today and I'm mindful how easily my own story might have turned out differently.

I hope Secrets and Words will show people they are far from alone, there's lots of help out there, and no need to keep difficulties with reading and writing a secret.



Abigail Appleton is Head of Commissioning, BBC Learning. Hear more about work in the interview below.



  • Secrets and Words is a series of stand-alone dramas on the theme of adult literacy and broadcasts daily on BBC One at 2.15pm from Monday 26 to Friday 29 March 2012.
  • More information about Secrets and Words, The Lingo Show and The Rhyme Rocket can be found on the Media Centre website.
  • An telephone advice line is available for anyone looking to improve their reading and writing skills. The number is 08000 150 950, or you can text WORDS to 81010.

Schubert Season on BBC Radio 3

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Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 17:48 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Editor's Note: BBC Radio 3 will play all of Schubert's compositions for eight and a half days from Friday 23 March 2012 in a special season entitled 'The Spirit of Schubert'.

The season launches with a special broadcast of In Tune in front of an audience as King's Place in London.

In this video interview for the About the BBC blog, Controller Roger Wright looks ahead to the network's forthcoming season.




Further scheduling information about Spirit of Schubert season can be found on the BBC Press Office website.

BBC Performing Arts Fund shares plans for the coming year

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Miriam O'Keeffe | 16:59 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Earlier this week, the BBC Performing Arts Fund welcomed guests from across the arts world to Broadcasting House's shiny new media café to hear about our plans for the coming year. The Fund has been going now for 9 years, first as the Fame Academy Bursary, and is about to reach £4m in grants. So it felt right to stop and showcase some of the amazing talent that we have worked with along the way.

The evening started with some important announcements - the Fund will be awarding up to £450,000 in grants to the music sector this year. And Caroline Thomson, the BBC' Chief Operating Officer announced that the new BBC One entertainment show The Voice will be raising money for the charity through premium telephone voting lines.

Performers from the group Bruk Out

Performers from the group Bruk Out

The host for the evening Reggie Yates who will be presenting The Voice along with Holly Willoughby, welcomed a diverse range of acts onto the iconic Radio Theatre stage. First up were Bruk Out, a streetdance group from South London who received a grant from the Fund under the community dance scheme. We were treated to an amazing selection of hip hop and contemporary dance despite the performers being confined to a very small stage not usually set up for street dance!

They were followed by Cardboard Citizens a charity based in east London that uses the performing arts to change the lives of homeless and at risk people. The group worked with their youth theatre programme last summer to fund a music based around their shared stories and experiences, a small extract of which they shared with a rapt audience.

And then for something completely different. Kathryn Rudge, a mezzo soprano from Liverpool, treated us to a couple of arias. Kathryn, who received funding to support her through her studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, has just finished a tour with Opera North, playing Sesto in Guilio Cesare.

The Royal Academy of Music Musical Theatre Company

The Royal Academy of Music Musical Theatre Company

And finally the Royal Academy of Music's Musical Theatre Company finished the night off with a dazzling arrangement of BBC theme tunes. Many of the students have been supported through their studies by funding from the BBC Performing Arts Fund.

It was really difficult for me to pick four acts to reflected the spirit of what we do and we could easily have had 40 or even 400 from all our previous beneficiaries on stage. But I was so proud of everyone who volunteered and took part. And very excited to find out who will benefit this year from our music grants.



Miriam O'Keeffe is Director of the BBC Performing Arts Fund

About the BBC Editor Jon Jacob spoke BBC Performing Arts Fund Director Miriam O'Keeffe and Trustee Dorothy Wilson at the showcase event on Tuesday 20 March 2012 at Broadcasting House. Their thoughts and those of performers Bruk Out feature in the interview below.

Debating the economy across the country

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David Holdsworth David Holdsworth | 11:03 UK time, Thursday, 15 March 2012

Our Economy Graphic

Our Economy will broadcast on BBC One at 2305 on Monday 19 March 2012.



At a time when our audience is hungry to understand how the economy will affect their lives, the week of the budget is an ideal moment to put local economic developments under the spotlight and hold those in charge to account.

In September 2010, in the lead up to the Comprehensive Spending Review, BBC regional television debated exclusive research into the economic resilience of areas across England.

This year, with growth a key topic for debate, we have commissioned research which gives us some surprising insights into where the biggest potential for growth is across England. The findings of the research, conducted by Experian, will be available from Monday 19th March.

The research helps inform the debate around how healthy our economies are, nationally and locally. The data is worked out at local authority level so can provide very localised, regionalised data, and provides the audience with great local knowledge about an area's economic experience.

Of course, underneath the data are real stories about how the economic facts impact on real people. So, from the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, to the factory floor of Bradford's biggest employer, to Bristol's Cathedral School, we'll be hearing from those people most affected, and holding politicians and business leaders to account. MPs, Dragon's Den winners, Apprentice candidates, bankers, public sector workers, and dozens of other interested and informed guests will join in twelve debates across England.

In each area, of course, the issues under discussion will be very different. How reliant is the area on public sector employment? What type of industry/employment prospects are there in the area? What's the jobless picture? How quickly and where can growth be found?

The picture varies wherever you live and a crack team of presenters will be making sure those questions are put to the people who make the key decisions. The Today Programme's Evan Davis, Panorama's Richard Bilton and Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire are amongst the presenters keeping everyone on their toes.

You put together the local stories and a national picture emerges, and we're delighted that our colleagues from network news will be joining us on Monday 19th in reporting the story of growth across the UK. Chief Economics Correspondent Hugh Pym will be leading the coverage on the main national news bulletins, with Breakfast News and the News Channel live throughout the country, bringing local stories to a national audience.

Local radio, BBC news online and our local websites will also be highlighting and exploring the issues throughout the day.

So, do join us for 'Our Economy: The Debates' on BBC One, Monday March 19 at 2305, and on the BBC iplayer from the following day.

The programmes from across the English regions are as follows.

London
Our Economy: The BBC London Debate
Presented by: Evan Davis
From: Museum of London
Guests include: Nicola Horlick, Financier

West
Our Economy: The Points West Debate
Presented by: David Garmston
From: Bristol Cathedral School
Guests include: Sir David McMurty; Trunki's Rob Law

South West
Our Economy: The Spotlight Debate
Presented by: Justin Leigh
From: Plymouth
Guests include: Mark Jenkins

North West
Our Economy: The North West Tonight Debate
Presented by: Ranvir Singh
From: The Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester
Guests include: Kirsty Henshaw (Dragons Den winner), Hazel Blears MP

East Midlands
Our Economy: The East Midlands Today Debate
Presented by: Marie Ashby
From: Vision West Notts College
Guests include: Prof Martin Binks from the University of Nottingham Business School, George Cowcher Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chambers of Commerce, Asha Khemka the college principal, Andy Belfield, Unison, East Midlands

West Midlands
Our Economy: The Midlands Today Debate
Presented by: Mary Rhodes
Guests include: Lord Digby Jones; Shadow Work & Pensions Secretary, Liam Byrne MP, Kate Walsh (finalist BBC One's The Apprentice Series 5) Location: University of Birmingham

Yorkshire
Our Economy: The Look North Debate
Presented by: Panorama's Richard Bilton
From: The factory floor of one of Bradford's biggest employers - BorgWarner
Guests include: Caroline Flint MP, Julian Smith MP, Martyn Kendrick (Lloyds TSB).

North East and Cumbria
Our Economy: The BBC Look North Debate
Presented by Victoria Derbyshire

South East
Our Economy: The South East Today Debate
Presented by: Natalie Graham
From: Brighton's Jubilee Library
Guests include: Caroline Lucas MP; Michael Fallon MP; Ex-Apprentice star Katie Hopkins; multi-millionaire businessman Mike Holland

East Our Economy: The Look East Debate Presented by: Amelia Reynolds

East Yorks and Lincs
Our Economy - The Look North Debate
Presented by Tim Iredale
From University of Lincoln Business and Law Faculty

South
Our Economy: The South Today Debate
Presented by: Sally Taylor
From Basingstoke at the UK HQ of Linde



David Holdsworth is Controller, English Regions

Religious programming on the BBC this Easter

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Aaqil Ahmed Aaqil Ahmed | 10:40 UK time, Thursday, 15 March 2012

Easter this year on the BBC is all about passion.

It's the name of our two big highlights and it's a reflection as well of all the effort that has gone into making this Easter a stand out in the calendar for our listeners and viewers.

The year before I started at the BBC, there had been some concerns expressed about the BBC's Easter coverage and I was clear when I joined that we'd listen to viewers' feedback and work hard to address this and get the balance right in the future. This is my third Easter at the BBC and since I joined I've been determined to provide coverage that is meaningful and relevant to viewers and listeners.

Anne Widdecombe and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in the BBC One Programme Does Christianity Have a Future?

Anne Widdecombe and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in the BBC One Programme Does Christianity Have a Future?

Since then, we have steadily built strong television content with documentaries presented by the likes of Bettany Hughes, Nicky Campbell and Ann Widdecombe on subjects as diverse as the future of Christianity, forgiveness and the perceived persecution of Christians in Britain.

This year we've really decided to be bold with major offerings on TV and radio. The Preston Passion on BBC One on Good Friday is the culmination of eighteen months of conversations, planning and effort to deliver a live event that not only marks Easter but also sends out a clear message that we take this subject area very seriously and back it with ambitious programming from dramas, to services, to debates and thought provoking documentaries.

Bishop Crowther (Ronald Pickup) and Samuel Horrocks (Tom Ellis) in 'Pilate', part of BBC One's The Preston Passion

Of course alongside the two stand out projects, The People's Passion on BBC Radio Four and The Preston Passion on BBC One, there will be Easter services and programming across many platforms.

I truly believe this is an exciting Easter line up, with something for all our viewers and listeners. I hope everyone will see and hear the passion that has gone into our programming.


Aaqil Ahmed is Commissioning Editor Religion and Head of Religion & Ethics



The BBC's commitment to developing opportunities for women

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Amanda Rice Amanda Rice | 13:48 UK time, Thursday, 8 March 2012

The representation of women across political, professional and business life has been widely debated in the past few months.

For broadcasting too, there has been much focus on the role of women both on and off-screen, most recently on the number of expert women used on TV and radio in a campaign by Broadcast magazine.

So, this year's International Women's Day - a day when many around the world hold events to celebrate the achievement of women and inspire other women to achieve in the future -comes at a particularly pertinent moment.

And it seemed an appropriate opportunity to share some of the work we at the BBC have been doing around this issue and to respond on the particular point of the BBC's decision not to sign Broadcast magazine's "pledge" to increase the numbers of expert women on air.

We have shared with Broadcast our whole-hearted support for the pledge's broad principles, but we have at the same time explained why the BBC does not sign up to the numerous pledges, compacts and campaigns that we are periodically invited to endorse. (see our Editorial Guidelines under Impartiality sections 4.4.20 and 22).

We believe a far greater impact and more sustainable outcomes will be achieved if the aims of the pledge are agreed and promoted by the existing industry body for diversity, the Creative Diversity Network (CDN). This approach would allow all broadcasters to work collaboratively to promote women in the industry. As Chair of the CDN, the BBC suggested this approach to CDN CEOs when they met at the end of February and this will be formally proposed to CDN steering group members on 14th March.

Of course, we cannot ignore the fact that society - particularly those areas which are most likely to be the focus of News and Current Affairs - is unequal when it comes to gender balance. 78% of the Cabinet is male as are 79% of MPs in general; 85% of FTSE directors are men and 95% of FTSE chief executives. The same imbalances are replicated in academia, journalism, the judiciary and across most areas of life including at the more senior levels of public office. This is not how it should be, but it is the reality. It is not in spite of - but because of - these challenges, that the BBC makes concerted efforts to encourage more female representation among its programme contributors but also among our presenters, correspondents and the large off-screen workforce, including those who make influential editorial and creative decisions. The BBC's Director General Mark Thompson recently laid out our position in the Daily Mail (9 Feb 2012).

Half of our audiences are female (and so is half of our staff) and intrinsic to our public purpose remit is the BBC's commitment to reflect all society and to give a voice to those who are not always heard or seen as well as to the mainstream. See our Equality Information annual report for more detail.

Our recent work for on-air/on-screen female representation has included:

  • In January this year we published the results of the Serving All Ages Report which we commissioned, in 2011 on behalf of the CDN which sought to uncover (within the context of a broader examination of age portrayal) to what extent audiences are concerned about the visibility of middle aged and older women on screen. Work now begins to share the findings across the industry and develop actions to respond to them.
  • Also in 2011, the BBC led the development of Framework of Actions on Gender Equality to respond to, complement and support the work carried out by the European Commission and European social partners in the field of gender equality and to extend it within the audio-visual sector. The Framework was adopted in October 2011 and covers gender portrayal, as well as addressing gender roles at work, equal pay, equality in decision.
  • Closer to home, in the wake of the Miriam O' Reilly case ruling, we have developed and delivered training on fair selection for nearly 400 managers responsible for appointing presenters across BBC Vision, Audio & Music and Journalism. We have also just developed Diversity Top Tips: Recruiting diverse presenters -to complement the training.

Off-screen, diverse employee representation is equally critical. The BBC employs over 20,000 staff the vast majority of whom do not appear on screen and we have a responsibility as a major public service employer to reflect our audience across the entire workforce.

We have a long track record of developing opportunities for women - in engineering for example - and we know that the look and feel of our output, including how accurately we reflect the modern UK, is directly influenced by those who make key editorial and creative decisions. This must remain a primary focus for us.



Amanda Rice is Head Of Diversity

Knocking through to New Broadcasting House

Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 17:29 UK time, Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Editor's note: Director, W1 Programme Andy Griffee blogs about a momentous week at New Broadcasting House in London ahead of the Burmese Service's first broadcast from the building on Sunday.

Anyone who has moved house will know that it takes some planning. But not usually 3 years.

However, that's how long I've been working to plan the single biggest migration ever undertaken in the BBC - and the house in question is New Broadcasting House. It is being turned into the home for 6,000 staff from Audio and Music, News and Vision who are coming together for the first time under one roof in Central London.

And this week, the years of planning, building and hard work finally came to fruition: BBC staff moved in and a new chapter in the history of Broadcasting House got underway.

Entrance to New Broadcasting House, West London.

On Monday we welcomed the first 80 World Service staff into the building and this Sunday 11th March the BBC's Burmese Service will be the first programme to broadcast live from their new Broadcasting House studios. This marks the start of the BBC World Service's move from Bush House, its London home for over 70 years, to a new state of the art, multimedia broadcasting centre in the heart of the capital.

Last week heralded another first when we opened the doors of the Media Café to our Radio Theatre audiences. This new purpose-built facility will now be used on a regular basis for our audiences to enjoy some refreshments and relax before watching a BBC show in the Radio Theatre.

Earlier this week, the walls came down between the old building and the neighbouring new one, to create one New Broadcasting House. For the first time, the BBC's national and global journalism teams will be working together on the same site, alongside Radio 1 and 1Xtra, the commissioning and scheduling teams for BBC One, Two, Three and Four, and all of the Vision Factual teams based in London, such as The One Show and Watchdog. In such a truly integrated building there is a real possibility of Kofi Annan, Bruce Forsyth, David Cameron and Justin Bieber bumping into each other in the green room! Maybe there's a new programme idea there?

New Broadcast House, West London

The site has taken a decade to complete and will be fully operational by April 2013. One of the added benefits of the new building is the financial savings it has enabled the BBC to deliver. The financial benefits of the project have more than trebled from £233 million estimated in 2003 to the latest estimate of £736 million.

As we move into the BBC's iconic new home, what could be a more fitting tribute than to name a wing of New Broadcasting House after John Peel, the late Radio 1 DJ, who personified so much of what the BBC stands for - quality, creativity and innovation.

Whilst individual buildings don't necessarily change anything, new Broadcasting House will provide a unique opportunity to bring together all of the BBC's main output departments in one place, work more cost effectively and deliver an even better service to our audiences.



CBeebies 2011/2012 Launch Event

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Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 17:15 UK time, Friday, 2 March 2012

During a special screening of new CBeebies programmes for 2011 and 2012 at King's Place in central London, Controller of the pre-school digital channel Kay Benbow spoke about the thinking behind the channel and the special connection it makes with its audience.

The event formed part of two weeks of 10th birthday celebrations for CBBC and CBeebies.

Further information on the forthcoming season, including Tree Fu Tom and Andy's Wild Adventures can be found on the BBC Media Centre website.

Susannah Simons introduces Music Nation

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Jon Jacob Jon Jacob | 16:52 UK time, Friday, 2 March 2012

Over on the Radio 3 blog, Project Executive 2012 Susannah Simons explains some of the background to the Music Nation weekend of events running across the UK on 3 and 4 March 2012.

I spoke to Susannah last week in a brief interview about her work on the project, what she's looking forward to during the weekend and about life after Music Nation.

Find out more about the Music Nation weekend over on the Radio 3 National Concert Finder

Ten years of BBC Four

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Richard Klein Richard Klein | 13:50 UK time, Thursday, 1 March 2012

Image from the BBC Four birthday trail.


I am writing this blog while recovering from a dose of viral flu - a sudden attack that floored me for three days, left me shivering like a leaf and feeling as though I was in someone else's skin, hallucinating. Nice.

Bear that in mind, folks, while I tap out some thoughts about the past 10 years of BBC Four.

Well, 10 glorious years, of course. Indeed, if there is one thing that the channel has achieved over the last 120 months it is to prove that it is possible to attract decent audiences not only to thoughtful programmes but also to a broad range of subjects all on the same channel. I think people understand now that Four is an entertainment channel, only we entertain differently, thinking outside the box, through discourse, wit and proposition.


Fantabulosa

Michael Sheen stars as Kenneth Williams in the BBC Four drama Fantabulosa.


BBC Four is unique in the digital world. It doesn't strip and strand or stack - run the same shows one after another, or play them out like clockwork across the same time slot during the week. It behaves like a mainstream terrestrial channel, mixed genre, moving from one subject to the other.

And now. Since its launch, the channel reaches nearly 10m people a week watching at least three minutes (an industry standard) and our share is hovering around 1.4%.



Some of the milestones? Well, winning four Baftas last year (including best Comedy Performance for Jo Brand and Best Single Drama for The Road To Coronation Street) stands out. As does having the most talked-about drama of 2011 (alongside Downton Abbey!) in The Killing. Having over one million viewers tune in each week to watch our series on The Story of British Musicals felt good, as did having over 1/2m people watch our extraordinary experiment to create an orchestra with instruments purely out of scrap. Afterlife, our 90 minute film that recorded decay and re-be-birth in a house full of rotting food was also a winner with audiences.


Jack Dee in BBC Four comedy Lead Balloon


Looking further back, stand out shows over the years at Four have been the breakthrough drama The Alan Clark Diaries, beautifully acted by John Hurt; the National Trust programme which won a Bafta for Best Documentary series; and the film that opened the channel's first ever moment on air, Michael Landy's extraordinary art happening where he destroyed all of his possessions.

Other wonderful stand-out moments have been a slew of great comedies - The Thick Of It, Lead Balloon, Getting On and Twenty Twelve. In drama there was the wonderful Fantabulosa, about Kenneth Williams, the Curse of Comedy series and The Long Road To Finchley, which told the story of Margaret Thatcher's early years getting into parliament. More recently Hattie, Lennon Naked and Holy Flying Circus have proved that drama is still alive and well on Four!


Stephen Fry in the BBC Four film about opera composer Richard Wagner.

Stephen Fry on Wagner


One of the pleasures of running BBC Four is being able to bring new talent to the public, and because BBC Four is all about proposition and authorship there's been some great new faces telling new stroies as well as familiar faces telling unexpected tales. Stand-outs among the familiar for me include Stephen Fry's film on Wagner, Ian Hislop on the Beecham reforms, Richard Wilson on Britain's best drives, Jo Brand on crying and, of course, Julia Bradbury's walking programmes.

Less familiar but with real stories tell include Lucy Worsley's history of the house, Jim Al-Khalili's on-going films about deep physics and Robert Bartlett's insightful series on the medieval mind.


Thick of It

The cast of BBC Four comedy The Thick of It


Of course one name also stands out for me - Andrew Graham Dixon, who over the past five or six years has been building a body of work desrcibing the art of various countries. Andrew's take is effortlessly propositional and his last series, on American art, was masterful.

So, going forward, what now for the next 10 years? Well, be in no doubt that it will be tougher here. Following the government's decision to freeze the licence fee, BBC Four is facing some quite serious cuts in originations - ie new programmes, and I have no doubt that these will have an impact.

However on a more positive note I am determined to do everything that I can to ensure that the quality and tone of BBC Four programmes remains as high as ever. And to ensure that the spirit of Four - witty, knowing, curious, having something to say, propositional - will be maintained. And expanding the channel's role as the curator and leader of the BBC's Archive project - rolling out as much of the archive as we can in a way that is both entertaining and financially sensible - will also form a new part of the channel's activitities.


Stephen Mangan and Darren Boyd star in three new episodes of Dirk Gently.


Coming up this year will be the final series of The Killing, and a terrific new police murder mystery called The Bridge. There's our new series on Catholics, a gorgeous new series on Art Nouveau and our new drama series inspired by Douglas Adams - three more Dirk Gently episodes.

And now, enough - my head's spinning again, and I'll sign off before I start typing nonsense! Keep an eye on BBC Four and I very much hope you enjoy what you see.


Richard Klein is Controller, BBC Four

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