BBC Wales 'purges' English accents

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The Independent Online

BBC Radio Wales is discriminating against broadcasters who speak with an English accent, says an official complaint lodged with the Commission for Racial Equality.

Lionel Kelloway, a distinguished broadcaster with two Sony awards, says he has been forced off the air because he does not sound like Max Boyce or Ruth Madoc. The station has axed Landmark, his prize-winning programmes on the countryside and environment.

"I have been dumped by the BBC after more than 15 years," he said. "I am extremely concerned and very upset because there's a pattern of discrimination developing."

Mr Kellaway is not the only English-sounding broadcaster to complain. Ian Skidmore, who worked for BBC Wales for 20 years, picked up the "Golden Microphone award for Wales" in 1998, before, he claims, he fell foul of the nationalist lobby.

"BBC Radio Wales sounds like someone broadcasting down a wet sock," he says. "The only presenters they will have left are historians on the make and people so insecure they adopt phoney Welsh accents."

Phil Rickman used to host Now Read On, a weekly half- hour of book reviews and interviews with authors. But Mr Rickman and his programme have been rejected.

"The momentum to cast aside experienced broadcasters who lack a Welsh accent is increasing," he says. "There is talk in Cardiff of 'ethnic cleansing' of voices that don't fit."

Production staff at the Corporation say they are under pressure to get more Welsh accents in. "BBC Radio Wales is being split by what is really a race-relations row," said one programme-maker.

A spokesman for BBC Wales said they would defend any action. "We categorically deny the allegations," he added.

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