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Cleese blasts BBC comedy execs

John Cleese has blasted BBC comedy, saying its executives have no clue about what makes people laugh.

He criticised the corporation for being run by professional managers, with no first-hand track record of comedy – unlike the executives in his heyday.

Cleese said: ‘The people who became executives [back then] had produced or directed a great deal of comedy.

‘Now there seems to be an executive class and they have never written and never directed. They seem by some mystical process to understand comedy much better.

‘And now they want to know what is going to be in every programme so that they can say, “That won’t work”. On the basis of what?”

The 73-year-old was speaking to mark the closure of TV Centre in West London. which the BBC sold for shops and offices in a much-criticised decision. However some TV production will be retained there.

Cleese is no stranger to criticising the BBC, complaining as long ago as 2002: ‘Nobody [in Britain] seems to have any gut feeling for what makes exciting television anymore, it's all management by numbers.’

And last year he told Richard Bacon that the Corporation were too interested in marketing and ratings than talent,and said of executives: ‘Although they can’t actually be funny themselves, they think they understand how it all works.

Published: 20 Mar 2013

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