More risks and fewer sitcoms as BBC1 moves upmarket

BBC1 is to redefine itself as a more distinctive, upmarket, public-service broadcaster, slashing docusoaps and getting rid of traditional situation comedies, after an internal review at the corporation.

BBC1 is to redefine itself as a more distinctive, upmarket, public-service broadcaster, slashing docusoaps and getting rid of traditional situation comedies, after an internal review at the corporation.

The BBC will pledge that from April, Question Time will never again be scheduled later than 10.30pm. Twice a year it will clear its schedules for an evening of topical debate.

The review, seen by The Independent , was conducted by Alan Yentob, BBC director of programmes. Peter Salmon, BBC1 controller, is understood to have been closely involved. The review was ordered by BBC governors after they expressed discontent with some of the channel's programming.

In response to criticism of poor sitcoms, there will be a promise today "to take risks in a way no other broadcaster could". The BBC will insist that sitcoms are experimental and innovative, like the current hit, The Royle Family , starring Caroline Aherne. And it will give new emphasis to top-level drama, science and documentary programmes.

The review says BBC1 will spearhead "big, bold ideas" and act as a catalyst to the corporation's educational materials and resources. There will be four educational campaigns a year, starting in spring with Kick the Habit , an anti-drugs campaign.

The importance of news will be emphasised with a sideswipe at ITN's decision to move News at Ten . Mr Yentob will promise that news bulletins will be central to the channel's peak-time viewing.

On sport, the panelwill say only that the BBC was committed to a wide portfolio.

Some of the firmest pledges come in the area of scheduling. The panel will promise that the Everyman and Omnibus programmes will start no later than 10.40pm, while Songs of Praise will continue to be scheduled in its regular Sunday evening slot.

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