David Tennant criticises plans to make channels air ‘distinctively British' shows

Doctor Who was cited by ministers as such a programme.

David Tennant has criticised the Government over plans to require broadcasters such as the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to make “distinctively British” programmes.

In September, then media minister John Whittingdale announced new rules making it a legal requirement for public service broadcasters (PSBs) to carry shows that reflect Britain and British values.

He cited series such as Downton Abbey, Great British Bake Off, Top Gear, The Bodyguard and Doctor Who, in which Tennant played the titular Time Lord between 2005 and 2010.

(Radio Times/PA)

The actor told Radio Times: “Is there some inherent criticism within this plea for more Britishness? Did Britishness mean ‘made in Britain’ or programmes that have a certain political viewpoint?

“Is it just a government pleading for the artist to be more sympathetic towards it? Why would the Government feel they need more sympathy directed towards them?

“Perhaps that’s a question they should ask themselves, rather than trying to blame it on the television industry.”

In his announcement in September, Mr Whittingdale said the new rules would encourage PSBs to make content that was “iconic, not generic”.

He said the measures were needed so traditional broadcasters can compete with US streaming giants in the digital age.

In response to Tennant’s comments, a DCMS spokesperson said: “This has absolutely nothing to do with the portrayal of government or political viewpoints on TV.

“It is right that public service broadcasters continue making shows which reflect modern Britain and allow audiences across the UK to see people representative of them and their way of life on screen.”

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