Exclusive: Fear of Fanny producer among 22 redundancies at BBC

Ben Evans, the BBC producer whose credits include Fear of Fanny and The Curse of Steptoe, has emerged as one of the most high-profile casualties of the Corporation’s axing of 22 drama production posts.

Evans, who most recently executive-produced the ghost story Whistle and I’ll Come to You and who was also responsible for the BBC4 biopics Kenneth Williams – Fantabulosa! and Hughie Green, Most Sincerely, has worked at the BBC for more than ten years.

He is one of 22 people being made redundant from the in-house drama production unit because of what the BBC has called a “continuing pressure on content spend”.

Evans confirmed to The Stage that he was leaving the BBC, but refused to comment on whether his redundancy was compulsory or voluntary.

“I am one of several people leaving drama production,” he said, adding that his split with the BBC was “amicable”.

The producer revealed he was currently “considering his options” but said he was “very excited about new challenges and working with different people”.

News that the BBC is cutting 22 positions from its in-house drama production arm was first reported in October, with Nicolas Brown, director of BBC Drama, admitting the posts would be

cut from a range of areas – with roles such as assistant directors, script supervisors, script editors, production coordinators and executive producers all being affected.

He said a number of changes had “impacted on the scale” of the BBC’s production business, and claimed the window of creative competition – which allows independent companies to compete with the BBC’s in-house drama department for programming slots – meant there was “uncertainty about the level” of the production arm’s business.

He warned that there would also be pressure on content spend in the wake of the BBC’s pension review and because of the freeze on the licence fee, outlined in the spending review.

“As a result of all these factors, we don’t see our business returning to the 2009/10 level,” he said.

BECTU was consulted on

the redundancies, with national official Anna Murray expressing concern at the time that the BBC would “lose forever the skills and experience these people bring to creating high-end drama”.

She told The Stage the loss of “highly talented people is short-sighted and does not demonstrate a wisdom regarding ‘value for money’.”

“Licence payers, I am sure, would rather see the BBC find new ways of using these brilliant people, who make great programmes like Waking the Dead and have established the respect of writers and actors, rather than paying them redundancy money and hiring freelances instead,” she said.

She added that BECTU was “concerned that management has turned down volunteers while others remain at risk of compulsory redundancy”.

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