Judi Dench urged BBC to end ‘credit squeezing’ five years ago

Judi Dench on stage in the West End. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Judi Dench lobbied unsuccessfully to persuade former BBC director general Mark Thompson to abandon the practice of squeezing programme credits more than five years ago, The Stage can reveal.

The actress wrote to Thompson in 2007 to complain about the practice of ‘credit squeezing’, in which the credits are boxed up in the corner of the screen while voice-overs tell viewers about forthcoming programmes.

The BBC and Dench’s agent declined to reveal the contents of the letter but the Corporation confirmed that she objected to the practice in a letter in which other grievances were also aired.

“Dame Judi did send the letter and that was among the issues that was raised in it,” said a BBC spokeswoman. Dench’s agent declined to respond to enquiries.

The BBC would not confirm whether Thompson responded to her requests, but nothing was done to remedy the issue for more than four years after the letter was written.

The issue has, however, returned to the agenda of the television industry following last February’s report by performers’ union Equity, which revealed that the majority of viewers objected to the practice of credit squeezing, complaining it ruined their viewing experience and prompted them to switch channels.

As a consequence, the BBC undertook a number of promises, including pledging that at least one episode of a drama or comedy series that has more than one episode will not be squeezed.

Sky has now promised to abolish the practice altogether after its own research found three-quarters of its viewers believe credits are important for actors.

Its research also found more than a third of its customers – 36% – like to read end credits, and 39% feel they are “important” for viewers.