Cathy Come Home director calls for corporation to democratise and says ‘bad history’ dramas such as Downton Abbey put viewers’ brains to sleep
Director Ken Loach has taken aim at the BBC, describing its news coverage as “manipulative and deeply political” and saying it is a “rotten place for a director”.
Prominent leftwinger Loach, who is promoting his Palme d’Or-winning film about a man’s struggle with the UK benefits system, I, Daniel Blake, said there was a need to “democratise” the corporation.
“Diversify it so that different regions can make their own dramas. And its notion of news has got to be challenged,” he told the Radio Times.
“The BBC is very aware of its role in shaping people’s consciousness; this is the story you should hear about, these are the people worth listening to. It’s manipulative and deeply political.”
In response to the comments, a BBC spokeswoman said: “BBC News is independent and adheres to clear published editorial guidelines including on impartiality. The BBC is consistently rated the most trusted and accurate news provider by the majority of people in the UK.”
It is not the first time Loach, who has been vocal in his support of Jeremy Corbyn, has criticised the BBC’s news coverage.
Last month, he told an audience at University College London to complain to the corporation when they thought coverage was biased against Corbyn, and labelled the corporation a “propaganda” arm of the state adopting a “pretense of objectivity”. “The BBC is not some objective chronicler of our time – it is an arm of the state,” he said.
Loach has had a long and fruitful relationship with the BBC, which 50 years ago broadcast his influential film Cathy Come Home charting a family’s descent into poverty and homelessness. I, Daniel Blake was made in partnership with BBC Films
However, Loach implied that the BBC had lost its appetite for socially conscious TV drama.
“Even then, people overstated how much of it there was. Anyway, now the drama is produced by outside production companies and horribly micro-managed. The directors I know in television say it’s a nightmare. That’s true for all the broadcasters,” he concedes, “but the BBC is a rotten place for a director.”
He also criticised the broader TV industry for choosing shows such as Downton Abbey which present a “rosy vision of the past”.
“It says, ‘Don’t bother your heads with what’s going on now, just wallow in fake nostalgia’,” he said.