'Blackadder' creator returns to TV with cunning plan to replace boring shows

The creator of Blackadder and Spitting Image has marked his long-awaited return to television with a scathing attack on the vogue for programmes about lifestyle and celebrity.

John Lloyd, one of Britain's most successful television producers, claimed the viewing public was bored by makeover and lifestyle shows and craved more "interesting" and intellectual programmes.

"Lifestyle shows are going to go down and shows that have something to say will go up. You can see it with the rise of the history programmes," he said. "People don't like them just because they are history programmes, what they like is that they are really interesting."

Mr Lloyd, who has not made any television programmes for 14 years, pointed to the recent successes of books containing obscure facts. "It's part of what I believe is a Zeitgeist, a shift away from the beauty, make-up and decor shows and lifestyle sections," he said. "I think most people are bored of that."

Mr Lloyd spoke out yesterday at the launch of BBC2's autumn schedule, which includes his latest creation, QI, a radical quiz show hosted by Stephen Fry and featuring the cream of British comic talent.

The schedule also included a programme that puts Michael Portillo, the former Tory defence secretary, in the role of a single parent in Liverpool, caring for four children for a week on an £80 budget.

Other highlights of the season include the return of Michael Buerk to Ethiopia, 20 years after his harrowing report of famine led to the world-wide Band Aid campaign.

BBC2's controller, Jane Root, also revealed a series of racy dramas about some of Britain's greatest historical figures, only a day after her BBC1 counterpart, Lorraine Heggessey, announced a schedule dominated by history programmes.

Jonny Lee Miller (from the film Trainspotting) will star in a dramatic portrayal of the life of Lord Byron, who the BBC described yesterday as a "sex god aristocrat who lived fast and died young".

In another drama, Steve Coogan, creator of Alan Partridge and Paul Calf, will play the 17th century diarist Samuel Pepys, who was billed by the BBC as a "naval strategist and serial adulterer". Ian Hart will play Beethoven in the drama Eroica, set on the day the composer's third symphony was first played.

The Big Read, which aims to identify Britain's best-loved novel, will enter its final stages, hosted by Clive Anderson.

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