Theatre or TV (depending which way you look at it) What seems to have been lost in all of this commentary is that Kevin Spacey didn't voluntarily make the outburst about the BBC's annoying talent shows. As shown on BBC Breakfast this morning, he was prompted by a question from the network's own arts presenter during a press junket for Spacey's new movie 21, designed to advertise said film. How is that different? It just is, I suppose.

But this random prompting, unrelated to the subject at hand could almost seem like the BBC determined to attract some free publicity of its own for, the latest iteration of the programmes, this time about Oliver! which will be running directly after Doctor Who having stolen its rightful slot (another bone of contention -- really there's been war on the message boards). I'm sure not but it was entertaining to see Spacey predictably rattled, borrowing the game face of Lester Burnham his character from American Beauty. Kevin's one of those actors who always seems to be channeling at least one of his previous roles.

Michael Billington agrees with him and for what its worth, so do I. Elsewhere this time last year I made the case for more proper theatre on television and the situation hasn't improved. Even my beloved The Culture Show features less theatre than musicians I've never heard of. Late Review seems to be only place to feature material about new productions and even then in an effort to criticise them. Spacey wants a return for Play For Today. Yes, please. But would it hurt for BBC Four to put on at least one live or recorded live production a month of something?

The BBC for their part says that they don't make any commercial gain from the subsequent shows which just makes the whole affair even more bizarre. Spacey's right -- if you're banging on about the same commercial product for thirteen odd weeks in prime time, talking about it a lot and making sure all of the viewers know when its on, it's advertising. It's made me very uncomfortable about some the BBC's other shows. What is The Great British Menu then, but a week long advert for the relevant chef's own restaurant, sure to be packed out by Friday?

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