David Attenborough says BBC should prioritise arts

Sir David Attenborough, the veteran broadcaster, 92, says BBC should make more arts and culture shows.

The naturalist broadcaster believes BBC has a responsibility to show programmes on a range of subjects and it is currently failing to produce enough arts and cultural programmes.

He stated that the corporation did not prioritise these shows because they do not attract a large enough audience.

He said: “I don’t think the BBC does enough [arts and culture]. It’s not enough simply to say, ‘Well, it doesn’t get a big enough audience.’ If you’re a public service broadcaster, people of all kinds should be catered for… What you should be saying is: ‘We will show the broad spectrum of human interest.'”

Blue Planet II, which was narrated by Sir David, was the most watched TV programme of 2017, reaching 37.6 million viewers in the UK. The environmentalist has also written and presented such series as Planet Earth, Life in Cold Blood and Zoo Quest.

Sir Attenborough also defended the BBC, saying gaps in its arts and culture coverage were not entirely the fault of the Corporation. “There are lots of gaps in the BBC’s coverage now, and that’s because they are harried and badgered by all sorts of people,” he said. “You can measure success not necessarily by the maximum size of the audience, but by the maximum width of the spectrum, and see whether there aren’t any gaps in it and how you’re filling them.”

In response to Sir David’s comments, BBC Arts said they would “love to do even more” coverage: “David rightly recognises the importance of arts and cultural programming in public service broadcasting and no other comes close to the BBC’s commitment – from Civilisations and Performance Live, to regular arts discussion programmes and the forthcoming year-long Our Classical Century – that said, we would love to do even more, which is why the BBC has said that we need to look at ways of increasing our income.”

The environmentalist also expressed surprise at how little television has changed during his 66-year-long career. He said new technology allows documentary making to be more accessible and he encouraged young producers to follow his steps. “Now the technology is so versatile, so small, anybody can make a natural history programme,” he added. “It’s just a matter of time. When people say, ‘How do I become a natural history film-maker?’ – the answer is, ‘Do it! It couldn’t be easier.’”

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