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The BBC’s new director-general is planning to tackle perceived Left-wing bias in the corporation's comedy shows, The Telegraph can disclose.
Tim Davie believes the BBC’s comedy output is seen as too one-sided and needs a radical overhaul in the coming months, senior sources revealed.
The BBC has long faced accusations that its comedy shows on radio and television are unfairly biased against the Tories, Donald Trump and Brexit.
In his first speech as director general on Thursday, Mr Davie will set out plans to restore “trust and confidence” in the BBC by better reflecting all sides of the political divide.
Part of the measures could see a number of shows axed, but senior sources at the BBC stressed that no decisions had yet been made, adding that Mr Davie would only set out a “direction of travel” in his speech.
However, it is expected that some of the worst-offending shows will be taken off the schedules in the longer term, senior sources said.
As well as cancelling shows altogether, BBC programme makers will be expected to find a better balance of satirical targets rather than constantly aiming jokes at the Tories.
Meanwhile, comedy panel shows will be told to book guests with a wider range of views on issues like Brexit, it is understood. There is also concern that too many BBC comedy shows promote a “metropolitan” London-centric and Left-wing view of the world.
Conservative MPs welcomed Mr Davie's drive to make BBC comedy more representative of views across the country.
Tory MP Ben Bradley said: "In recent years lots of BBC comedy shows are just constant Left-wing rants about the Tories and Brexit. If the BBC is to truly represent all licence fee payers, that needs to change.
"I'd like to see more right-leaning comedians given a chance rather than being effectively blacklisted for their views.
"Tim Davie appears to be talking a good game on sorting bias at the BBC, but whether it'll lead to real change, time will tell."
Mr Davie is understood to have made the issue of impartiality a priority following accusations of institutional bias from ministers and even the corporation’s own presenters.
In 2018, the BBC broadcaster Andrew Neil complained that the corporation's comedy output was too Left-wing, singling out The Mash Report, BBC Two's satirical late night show, as "self satisfied, self adulatory, unchallenged Left-wing propaganda”.
“It's hardly balance,” he said. “Could never happen on a politics show. Except this has become a politics show."
The Now Show on Radio 4 was "contrived ideological commentary" while the BBC One show Have I Got News For You "is on its last legs", Mr Neil added.
"When it comes to so-called comedy the BBC has long given up on balance, on radio and TV. Nobody seems to care. And I don't want Right-wing comedy, whatever that is. I'd just like comedy. Which is in really short supply. On TV and radio," he tweeted.
That same year, the producers of Radio 4 show The News Quiz were rebuked after the BBC upheld a complaint that the show was biased against the Conservatives.
Last June, the BBC initially defended the comedian Jo Brand after she joked about throwing “battery acid” in Nigel Farage’s face on Radio 4 comedy show Heresy. The corporation later decided Ms Brand had gone "too far” but denied her remarks had amounted to incitement.
Earlier this year the BBC provoked outrage by screening an “anti-British” comedy children's programme on the day the UK left the European Union. Hosted by the Left-wing comedian Nish Kumar, Horrible Histories Brexit suggested Britain had failed to produce anything of note, relying instead on imports and ideas taken from other countries.
In one scene, an actress playing Queen Victoria sang: “British things, British things, I thought that they were many. British things, British things, afraid there's hardly any.” Her servant then added: “Your British things are from abroad and most are frankly stolen.”
The long-running panel shows Have I Got News For You and Mock the Week have also attracted scores of complaints over perceived bias against the Tories and Brexit.
During his speech on Thursday, Mr Davie will set out broader plans to improve impartiality at the BBC.
BBC journalists and presenters will be reined in on social media from airing their political views, while there will be a crackdown on stars making money on the side by moonlighting for private companies.
Mr Davie will argue that the BBC needs to offer better value for money to licence fee payers across the country by better reflecting their views, it is understood.
It comes after the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden accused the BBC of providing a "narrow urban outlook" and failed to reflect the mindset of millions of British voters. An Ofcom report from late 2019 also revealed that the BBC is seen as too white, middle class, and London-centric.
In his first speech since taking up the role, Mr Dowden said in March that the corporation lacks "diversity of thought" and failed to understand the strength of pro-Brexit feeling or concerns about immigration.
His remarks were seen as an attack on the BBC's perceived Left-wing bias, and a warning that the Government plans to overhaul it when a new chairman is installed next year.