Gary Barlow day scaled back by BBC after impartiality criticism

A radio interview and online Q&A have been cut from the schedule

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The Independent Culture

The BBC’s plans to dedicate a day to Take That frontman Gary Barlow have been scaled back after critics condemned overexposure and a lack of impartiality.

One of two scheduled radio interviews and an online 'Ask Gary' session have been scrapped, but a concert from the BBC’s Radio Theatre will still be broadcast on air and via the red button.

The "Let Me Go" singer may have celebrated his first solo album in 14 years, Since I Saw You Last, reaching number two on Sunday, but complaints were made when the BBC revealed their intention to pay tribute to a "bona fide national treasure".

According to BBC editorial guidelines, the company must not "unfairly promote any commercial organisations", with artists, performers or artistic works included under this umbrella "particularly around the time of a new release".

The BBC originally defended their plans, describing the Gary Barlow overload as "no ordinary performance". "Throughout the day you can listen, watch and interact with a bona fide national treasure - before seeing him perform in concert," a spokesperson said.

"We expect to be judged on content we have actually broadcast, rather than in advance of broadcast," she continued. "However, we are careful to make sure the amount of coverage given to any artist is appropriate and we will always monitor our plans to ensure this remains the case.

“It is not unusual for an artist of Gary Barlow’s stature and broad appeal to appear on a range of programmes that reach different audiences.”

Director of radio industry group RadioCentre, Matt Payton, was among those who criticised the "undue prominence" planned for Barlow, telling The Times that the BBC "overstepped the mark previously with its promotion of acts like Coldplay and U2".

The BBC was found to have breached editorial guidelines in 2010 with their coverage of Irish rock band U2, including a U2=BBC logo that was deemed an endorsement. Similarly, a Harry Potter day on Radio 1 was ruled as having broken guidelines by the BBC Trust.