Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat says BBC ‘will never be safe in the hands of the government’

Former Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat says BBC ‘will never be safe in the hands of the government’

Former Sherlock and Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has said the BBC “will never be safe in the hands of the government”.

The 60-year-old screenwriter and producer praised the public service broadcaster for its role in “speaking truth to power”.

During an interview with Radio Times, when Moffat was asked about tensions between the corporation and government, he said: “Do I trust the BBC in the hands of the government? No, I don’t. The BBC, quite rightly, interrogates everybody.”

He jokingly added: “If you put me in charge of the fates of television critics, I would probably have half of them shot.

“It’s the job of the BBC to speak truth to power. You can’t allow power to defund the truth, that’s just not acceptable. You’d have to be an infant not to understand that there’s nothing else like it. It will never be safe in the hands of the government.”

Moffat has a long-standing relationship with the BBC, having worked with the broadcaster since the early Nineties on a number of high-profile drama projects.

The new culture secretary Michelle Donelan recently said she would look at the future of the BBC licence fee “in the round” but described herself as a “long-term sceptic” of the funding model.

In January, her predecessor in the role, Nadine Dorries, announced the licence fee would be frozen at £159 for the next two years until April 2024.

She said she wanted to find a new funding model before the current deal expires in 2027 as it was “completely outdated”.

A DCMS spokesperson said: “The BBC is a great national institution which makes a unique contribution to the UK and we want it to have a successful future serving audiences.

“However, the BBC’s funding model faces major challenges due to changes in the way people consume media, and it is necessary to look at ways to ensure it is sustainable in the long-term.”

The review was due to begin before the Commons summer recess on 22 July but was thrown into doubt after Boris Johnson’s resignation as Tory leader.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Moffat’s new drama Inside Man stars David Tennant and Stanley Tucci and is a co-production between the BBC and Netflix, like his 2020 adaptation of Dracula.

He said of the project: “No disrespect to the wonderful BBC, but the money we get from them wouldn’t fund what we’re talking about.

“It’s not exactly a Marvel feature film, but we needed some money to build a prison, we needed some to build the vicarage.”

Four-part mini-series Inside Man follows a prisoner on death row in the US, a vicar in a quiet English town and a maths teacher trapped in a cellar, as they cross paths in the most unexpected way.

Read The Independent’s review of Inside Man here.

Additional reporting from outlets