BBC's Kenyon and Holby unite for hospitals exposé

 

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Actress Bradshaw-White with Kenyon

he BBC has literally injected drama into its current affairs output in a bid to boost interest in a genre that all too frequently misses out on high viewing figures.

In the first collaboration of its kind on British television, BBC One’s investigative journalism series Kenyon Confronts has teamed up with drama Holby City to examine the Government’s hospitals building policy using public/private finance initiatives.

For next Wednesday’s edition of Kenyon Confronts, Holby City actors such as Art Malik and Luisa Bradshaw-White join undercover reporters secretly filming to expose problems such as bad design and poor hygiene and maintenance in some of the NHS’s “star” hospitals. The actors dramatised some of the journalists’ findings in a programme that claims the system of running hospitals is placing patients at risk.

The move is an attempt to revitalise the genre of investigative journalism and current affairs, and is a marked departure from the present run of “docu-dramas” to be found in abundance across terrestrial television, where fiction is infused with urrent affairs.

 

Paul Woolwich, senior executive producer for news and current affairs on BBC One, said the move was devised to give appeal to a theme that on its own was a dull subject.

“We’ve tried to inject a little more interest and to make the subject a little more accessible. Arrest the viewer and keep them watching – that’s what we’re trying to do here, with what on the face of it would be a rather dry, dull and worthy programme,” he said.

“We thought it might be a nice idea to collaborate with Holby City and get them to write a specially commissioned mini-drama based on some of the information we’d uncovered.”

BBC news and current affairs approached head of drama series Mal Young, who agreed and asked Tony McHale to write the inserts into the programme.

The story unfolds as a patient has a heart attack and as staff try to find him a bed, they wheel him to a lift via a crowded corridor of uncollected clinical waste bags.

Woolwich said the team was wary of making political statements in what was essentially an investigative programme. “In the context of factual, it wouldn’t have been allowed for the writer to have condemned the hospitals or used it as a platform for a political line.”

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham accused the makers of Kenyon Confronts and Panorama of bias this week, slamming forthcoming episodes on “old” allegations of sex abuse within the church. The BBC rejected the bias claims, saying it was in the public interest “to question and scrutinise issues that are the subject of legitimate debate”.

By Wale Azeez

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