La Plante says BBC favours Muslims

CRIME writer Lynda LaPlante attacked the BBC'scommissioning policy yesterday,claiming the corporation's drama team would rather take a script by a "little Muslim boy" than one she had written.

La Plante, the creator of Prime Suspect, the awardwinning detective series starring Helen Mirren, said she found the BBC drama

commissioning process "very depressing".

She said: "If my name wereUsafi Iqbadal and I was 19, then they'd probably bring me in and talk. But ... it's their lack of respect that

really grates on me."

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Her comments came after another top crime writer PD James, a former BBC governor, criticised falling standards, saying it was difficult to see how programmes such as Britain's Most Embarrassing Pets, Dog Borstal and Help Me Anthea, I'm Infested qualified as public service broadcasting. James said that the "extraordinarily large salaries"

awarded to BBC managers were "very difficult indeed to justify".

La Plante said: "If you were to go to the BBC and say to them, 'Listen, Lynda La Plante's written a new drama, or I have this little Muslim boy who's just written one', they'd say: 'Oh,we'd like to see his script'."

La Plante, whose TV hits include Widows, Trial and Retribution and Above Suspicion, said she was also irked at having to go

through "a retinue of people" before "you get to the god, Ben Stephenson

(BBC Controller of Drama]". Stephenson said he did not understand La Plante's comments because "Lynda had two pieces in development with us".

He said: "She has one piece at the moment, and one that we paid fully for the script development. She wrote the script but ultimately

we decided we didn't share the vision for that project so we parted. So she absolutely got in the door."

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