'Footballers' Wives' producer accuses BBC of foul play

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The Independent Online

Angry independent television producers led by the woman responsible for Footballers' Wives are compiling a dossier of complaints about unfair treatment by the BBC.

Eileen Gallagher claims the corporation is rigging the market by refusing to pay reasonable rates and that it is even stealing independent producers' ideas.

In a rallying cry to the 1,000 members of Pact, the Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television, which she chairs, Ms Gallagher is calling on fellow producers to provide evidence of shabby treatment, which will be presented to the BBC's newly appointed director of television, Jana Bennett.

Ms Gallagher, who runs Shed Productions, producer of Footballers' Wives and Bad Girls, said she believed her company had fallen victim to abuse. She said the company offered the BBC a drama series, Bombshell, about the British Army, and after a couple of months was told there was no overlap with any existing in-house production.

But when Shed Productions began fact-finding discussions with the Ministry of Defence, the MoD said the BBC had just approached the same infantry regiment for assistance.

A BBC spokeswoman denied any impropriety over Bombshell. The spokeswoman said Shed Productions was told at the start that the BBC was working on two ideas, one of which, Red Cap, has already been screened.