Editor Reports: BBC Daytime, is it too repetative?

In this Editor Reports Doug Lambert looks at whether the BBC’s daytime output is samey and repetitive.

The BBC Trust has criticised the daytime schedules for BBC One and BBC Two for not being diverse enough and relying on programmes with similar formats to pad out the schedules. However, are the criticisms of BBC Daytime by the Trust fair or unfounded? Has the corporation relied too heavily on the likes of Cash In the Attic and Bargain Hunt at the expense of comedy, current affairs and drama?

If you take a glance at the line-up for BBC One/BBC Two during the day, at any point in the year, and you are bound to come across a property show of some description and a “antiques/collectables” programme of some variation as well. Numerous examples of both genres spring to the mind immediately such as Bargain Hunt, Cash in the Attic, Homes Under The Hammer and Car Booty. Banished, it seems, as the game-shows which once dominated daytime television with The Weakest Link and Eggheads the only examples that spring to mind.

With Neighbours gone and its replacement Out of the Blue exiled to BBC Two before being cancelled the only regular soapy/drama fixture of the BBC Daytime schedules is Doctors. The endless looped repeats of Murder She Wrote or Diagnosis Murder hardly count. However, noticeably the BBC has increased its daytime drama in the past two years even if its only for a few short weeks a year. Pauline Quirke fronted drama Missing, about a police unit that deals with missing people, returned for an extended second season earlier this year. Due to return later this year will be Second World War drama Land Girls and Jimmy McGovern’s Moving On.

So the BBC has boosted its drama output in the daytime and has stated previous it intends to produce even more drama for daytime audiences with an upcoming example being The Indian Doctor, a 1960s based play. But what of current affairs? Lunchtime business programme Working Lunch on BBC Two has been cancelled after 16 years on air while The Daily Politics could be next. Comedy in the BBC daytime schedules is practically non-existent.

So is the BBC Trust’s criticism of the daytime schedules of BBC One and BBC Two fair? Or are the two channels merely providing audiences with genres which are popular at the moment – giving viewers what they want? Or perhaps its all very well providing popular genres but there needs to be a balance between such genres and key BBC principals such as drama and current affairs?