Political drama left to make a late-night entrance

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The Independent Online
Tomorrow BBC2 screens a film marking the centenary of the birth of Labour legend Nye Bevan. But you wouldn't know it. Rob Brown, Media Editor, finds its writer-director and star angry at the lack of publicity.

The decision not to make any effort to drum up an audience for Food for Ravens - a film which cost pounds 1m of licence money to make - has enraged the actor Brian Cox, who plays Bevan in the film. Almost spitting with rage on a trip back to Britain from Hollywood, he said that the film was a victim of both metropolitian myopia and the dumbing down of television drama in Britain: "BBC network bosses didn't want to run this wonderful piece of work outside Wales. Now that they've been embarrassed into showing it, they're trying to bury it."

The playwright Trevor Griffiths believes his film was only granted a nationwide screening after an article in The Independent last month. That highlighted the fact that the drama was in danger of being shown only in Bevan's homeland of Wales because executives doubted whether the founder of the National Health Service still had national appeal.

"Since they've been bounced into showing this thing, pique is now masquerading as policy," said Mr Griffiths yesterday. "They're putting it out in a very late slot and not drawing anyone's attention to it. I regard that as despicable, disgraceful and deeply unprofessional. It doesn't serve the BBC or the audiences that pay for it."

A spokesman for the BBC confirmed that there would be no trailers for this film, but he claimed that this was common practice. "If a programme is not trailed that doesn't mean the BBC isn't proud of it."

However, Brian Cox is so angered he has penned apolemic about what he sees as the demise of public service broadcasting. It will appear in the Independent on Sunday tomorrow. "I know there is a risk that I will never work in British television again for speaking out on this," he said. "But I'm so angry that I'm quite prepared to run that risk."

Food for Ravens is shown on BBC1 in Wales tonight at 9pm. BBC2 will show it elsewhere at 11.15pm tomorrow.