Jennifer Saunders attacks BBC: 'It's an executive-run place for idiots'

The creator of Absolutely Fabulous is sick of the Corporation's red tape

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The Independent Culture

Writer and actress Jennifer Saunders has attacked the 'ugly' and 'corporate' BBC of today, claiming it no longer resembles the place she worked when she created the classic comedies French and Saunders and Absolutely Fabulous.

The comedian told Glamour Magazine: "It's become top-heavy in such an ugly way. They went corporate instead of being what they should be, which is a national resource, a place which trains people and curates the best programmes, and encourages talent and does great news and journalism.

"I mean, the new DG [director-general, Tony Hall] said he'd go through it with a knife and cut out loads of people. But I remember when it was fun to be there.

"They'd all be geeky and everybody in the building looked like they really knew something or were learning something and were happy to be there - even though they were paid so little."

Saunders continued her tirade, saying the corporation had become an "executive-run place for idiots" in which "massive workshops for executives and heads of departments on decision-making" meant senior BBC figures no longer "know how to make a decision".

She also criticised what she perceives as a culture of excess, saying an unnamed director-general called her into "special lunches" at The Ivy.

"This is the licence payers' money!" she said. "I'm paying for the car to take me there - we all are paying for that car. And I'd like an extra bit of budget on my programme please and less of your wheels!"

The comedy veteran, who was talking to Glamour in advance of the publication of her autobiography, said the BBC's new Salford hub is "very weird and slightly soulless".

Climbing down from her magisterial diatribe, she said: "Do stop me because I could go on for hours about this. I have been left in rooms doing this rant."