BBC deal gives the British film industry a £300m boost

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The Independent Online

The BBC is to invest up to £300m producing and buying British films over the next decade in a significant boost to the domestic industry.

The corporation's successes include Billy Elliot, Mrs Henderson Presents and Dirty Pretty Things but it has been criticised by the Government and the Film Council for not doing more.

In response, it said yesterday it had signed a formal memorandum of understanding with the UK Film Council to increase by at least 50 per cent a year the money it puts into film, from £10m to £15m or even £20m.

Among the likely beneficiaries are TV comedians, whose talents the BBC is keen to exploit. High-profile series, such as David Attenborough's forthcoming Planet Earth, could be reformatted. But the BBC will also double the money spent on buying British films to about £11m a year, depending on a successful conclusion to licence-fee negotiations.

John Woodward, chief executive of the UK Film Council, said the investment would "take the BBC and catapult it into the position of becoming the broadcasting cornerstone of the British film industry".

Combined with the positive negotiation of new tax breaks for the film industry, this was a "turning point in the fortunes of the British production sector," he said.