BBC 'should not make this quiz'

Think-tank targets We Need Answers

After hounding Jonathan Ross from his £6million-a-year contract, critics of the way the BBC spends money have a more modest target in their sights – Mark Watson’s low-budget quiz show We Need Answers.

The centre-right think-tank Policy Exchange has today published a report accusing the corporation of wasting money on sports rights, formulaic game shows and on bidding for top-drawer talent; and says it should stop pursing audiences under 35, as they are well catered for by the commercial sector.

Asked to cite examples of the shows the BBC should not be producing, the report’s author, Mark Oliver, quoted BBC Four’s We Need Answers.

The show, which also features Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Tim Key and fellow stand-up Alex Horne, is shot on a shoestring, and features celebrity guests answering quirky questions.

Oliver called the show ‘an attempt to get a younger audience’ and said: ‘It's something that could be on the Bravo or Living channels.’

However, the channels he quoted are better known for featuring Ultimate Fighting Championship and people who claim to be able to talk to the dead than an deliberately awkward quiz show featuring guests such as feminist author Germaine Greer and folk poet Ian McMillan.

The BBC also says it has a responsibility to provide programmes for all licence fee payers – including the under 35s. And the report, Changing The Channels, also acknowledges that BBC Four has one of the oldest audiences of all networks.

On his Twitter page, Watson said: ‘This is a blow; we're always trying to impress Tories.

‘And if we're talking money waste, We Need Answers’ entire budget was less than the BBC spends every week keeping Brucie alive.’

Key Tweeted that he was ‘gutted’ by Oliver’s opinion.

Policy Exchange is said to be David Cameron’s favourite think-thank, and Oliver’s views are significant as he was head of strategy at the BBC when John Birt was director-general.

Here is a clip from the now controversial show:

Published: 14 Jan 2010

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