The Sunday Times
BBC3 faces questions over tabloid TV
March 25, 2007
MARK THOMPSON, the head of the BBC, is to be questioned by MPs over the "dubious" content of the corporation's channel for young adults after commissioning a string of programmes with expletive-ridden titles.
The latest offerings from BBC3 include F*** Off, I'm a Hairy Woman; F*** Off, I'm Ginger; and My Big Breasts and I.
Other shows to be broadcast on the digital channel later this year include a £200,000 documentary, The History of the C-Word, and a programme about the size of men's penises.
Critics believe that BBC3 has plunged to depths of sensationalism that were once the preserve of Channel 4 when it earned its then boss, Michael Grade, the newspaper columnist's soubriquet of "pornographer-in-chief".
The critics claim BBC3, which is aimed at the 16-34 age group and has an annual budget of £93m, is failing to meet the BBC's public service remit and is a waste of licence payers' money.
Thompson is due to give evidence to the Commons culture, media and sport select committee after Easter as part of its inquiry into public service broadcasting.
John Whittingdale, the committee's chairman, said: "Ever since it started, BBC3 has always seemed to me to comprise of somewhat dubious programmes.
"It is not adding very much to the public service output of the BBC and it does stand to question why the corporation is spending money and, indeed, occupying another slot on the [television] spectrum when it doesn't seem to be using it for purposes which are really in line with its remit.
"I look forward to asking Mark Thompson why hairy women are an important part of public service broadcasting."
The programme about society's obsession with women being hair-free will be screened on Thursday and is presented by Shazia Mirza, the Muslim stand-up comic.
One of BBC3's most controversial new shows is called My Penis and Everyone Else's. It is aimed at "challenging society's stereotypes of masculinity as well as getting to the heart of why men are so fixated with their members".
Launched in 2003, the channel has had successes, including comedies such as Little Britain, which rapidly transferred to the mainstream.
A BBC spokesman said: "Although these shows have a hard-hitting, provocative title, it does not mean their content is in any way less public service."