'No Regrets' – Michael Grade on Scottish TV Ideas

The former BBC chair and ITV plc executive chair, Michael Grade, says has no regrets making critical comments about the quality of TV proposals from Scotland.

Speaking to allmediascotland at the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television, he also said that while the remarks caused offence, they didn't result in a flood of new, good ideas.

It was at a nations and regions event hosted in June three years ago by broadcasting regulators, Ofcom, where Grade stated that the main cause for the dearth of Scottish commissions at ITV was a shortage of talent or creative ideas. Mark Thompson, BBC director general, concurred.

Grade was to then repeat the sentiment a few months later, when he talked about a “talent exit” from Scotland when giving evidence to the Scottish Broadcasting Commission.

He told allmediascotland.com: “The truth always hurts, doesn’t it? I am out of touch now and have no idea how vibrant the Scottish independent sector is. But speaking up to that point, I would not have said it if I didn’t believe it.

“And the proof of the pudding is on the screen because at that time there weren’t enough exciting ideas coming from Scotland.”

Queried as to whether the situation has changed: “I don’t know, I am out of touch and wouldn’t begin to offer an opinion.”

Asked if, when venturing the opinion, Grade hoped Scotland would wake up, he replied: “Of course and stop expecting to be spoon fed and look at the TV and try and come up with ideas that nobody else was coming up with.”

He continued: “People took offence but it didn’t exactly stimulate a flood of exciting ideas at that time. I can’t speak for the last few years – I have no idea.”

At the festival, Grade said he felt the BBC was “too big” and that Channel 4 should compete for a share of the licence fee with the BBC.