The BBC’s general manager has warned that the TV station is “losing talent” as “Phoebe Waller-Bridges” in a “red-hot” battle for stars and creators with rivals and streaming services.
During a digital, culture, media and sports committee session, Tim Davie commented when asked about key talent leaving, saying the company faces competition from other networks that may offer successful writers, actors and directors “transformation wealth”.
Emmy, Golden Globe and BAFTA winner Waller Bridge created and starred in the hugely popular and critically acclaimed BBC comedy Flea bag, which aired in 2016 and 2019, and was also the lead author of the first series of the television station’s equally acclaimed spy comedy thriller Kills Eve, launched in 2018.
In 2019, he became the star signed an exclusive £ 50m deal with Amazon Studios to make and produce new shows exclusively for Amazon Prime Video.
Ricky Gervais is another comedy star who gained fame on the BBC, with The Office in 2001, but continued to work with other networks and in 2019 launched black comedy After Life on Netflix – and has since signed a joint deal with the streaming platform.
In recent years, the TV station has also lost some big radio stars, with Chris Evans moving from Radio 2 to Virgin Radio in 2019 and Graham Norton following suit earlier this year – although he still presents his chat show on BBC One – also as a hit show The Great British Bake Off, who in 2017 moved to Channel 4 after seven series.
When asked about the BBC losing key talent, Davie told MPs: “We’re losing talent. It’s not just people who go to Times Radio and all that stuff, it’s also big deals signed with Phoebe Waller- Bridges.
“We are facing a situation where we are in a global game now. If you are a successful writer, actor or director, the demands on you have never been greater and there are opportunities for transforming wealth.
“The BBC must do things differently for other players – new talent and new writing.
“There’s something wonderful about working in the UK, life is not just about money, it’s about the creative experience you get, it’s about making normal people, some wonderful dramas, the ability to actually be on BBC One and have a large audience.
“These are things that make the BBC special, but over time there will be increasing pressure on us.”
Davie said it is “red-hot out there” as global players like Disney + and HBO Max enter the market.
He added: “Making things is one thing, but there is a strategic issue for the BBC and the UK about how much IP (intellectual property) we own and create, not just being a store, but an inventions and ownership store.
“It’s a real concern for us and we’m in battle.”
Davie discussed talent pay, saying: “The long-term position is restraint and value, that does not mean you get massive cuts from year to year.
“We have 22,802 contributors, the 72 who earn over 150 represent 0.3% of the content budget, and I know this may be an awkward area, but it is a very small amount and we are at an incredibly inflationary level. market.
“We have lost people, Graham Norton has gone to Virgin Radio, we have lost people to GB News, LBC, they are being poached.
“I want to see continued restraint in offering unparalleled value. We do not see a radical increase in these numbers, but we shamelessly want that top talent.”
During the session, BBC President Richard Sharp also defended the appointment of Jess Brammar as head of news channels, denying that controversies surrounding her appointment had “stained” it.
Brammar, former editor-in-chief of HuffPost UK and acting editor of Newsnight, will oversee the BBC’s two 24-hour news channels – BBC World News and BBC News Channel.
It comes after her impartiality was questioned when old tweets surfaced in which she was critical of Brexit and the Prime Minister.
Davie added: “We have to hire the best at the BBC and we have to hire across the political spectrum. It is an incredibly important precedent and this affair is dangerous area for us.”
This is not “because of the process”, he added, but because of people “who doubted our ability to hire people with views for the BBC” and that “when they come here, they leave them at the door – political views” .