LETTER: Quality television direct from the West End

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From Mr David Aukin

Sir: Channel 4 has over the last few years commissioned a number of stage plays for the screen (6 December), including Alan Bennett's Madness of George III, Ariel Dorfman's Death and the Maiden, David Mamet's Oleanna, Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing (now in post-production) and, as David Lister mentions, Adrian Noble is currently shooting A Midsummer Night's Dream.

They were commissioned because I felt they would work well as films and on television. What would convert ad hoc decisions into policy is if the Government would release the channel from its obligations under the funding formula to pay annual cheques (this year estimated at more than pounds 70m) to ITV and allow us instead to spend the money on more programmes, especially drama, which if it's to be done well can be expensive.

The question is whether it would enrich our lives more for Granada to use our money to fund their acquisition of Forte or for Deborah Warner's production of Richard II to be brought to our screens. It's a tough one.

Yours faithfully,

David Aukin

Head of Drama

Channel Four Television

London, SW1

6 December