BBC chief admits 'Castles' a failure

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The Independent Online
A question mark hangs over the future of the BBC's latest soap, Castles, after the corporation's head of drama, Charles Denton, yesterday branded it a failure, writes Rhys Williams.

Mr Denton said the final decision to recommission the peak-time series, which is coming to the end of a 26-part first run, will be taken by Alan Yentob, controller of BBC1, this summer. However, Mr Denton added that with an average audience of 3.2 million, Castles had plainly not been a success.

"A piece which sits in the middle of the schedule has obligations to deliver rather fuller levels of audience and enthusiasm than, I'm afraid, has happened with Castles," he said.

Mr Denton was speaking after the BBC had unveiled a pounds 174m package of drama designed in part to keep up the pressure on ITV over the next 12 months.

Highlights include the eagerly anticipated final work by the late Dennis Potter. In accordance with the writer's wishes, BBC1 and Channel 4 are combining resources to make and broadcast the two-part story, Karaoke, starring Albert Finney and Richard E Grant.

The House of Cards trilogy featuring Ian Richardson as the scheming Conservative prime minister Francis Urquhart will be concluded this autumn in the Final Cut. The writer responsible for adapting the Michael Dobbs novels for television, Andrew Davies, will also bring alive Pride and Prejudice, further evidence of the BBC's renewed appetite for costume drama.