A COMEDY writer has claimed a BBC executive told him Scottish viewers were less intelligent than their English counterparts.

The allegations by Glasgow-based Colin Edwards have been strongly denied by the BBC.

In a blog post, Edwards says he was asked to submit a comedy script for BBC Scotland. The writer was then called into a meeting to be told his script was “too intellectual for television” as it contained references to classical Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato.

He then says he was called into another meeting with BBC Scotland executives two weeks later as they wanted to pitch the sitcom to BBC2 bosses in London.

Then, when he asks why the change of heart a fortnight after saying the script was too intellectual, he says the BBC executive told him: “Oh, that was only in regards to BBC Scotland... This time we want to pitch it to BBC2 in London because English people are more, shall we say… ‘comfortable’ with intelligent comedy. They feel less threatened by it.”

Edwards claims the BBC are only interested in comedy set in “Glasgow, preferably male-centric and with no references to anything that could be construed as ‘intellectual’ or cultured otherwise”.

He continued: “I was left stunned and, depressingly, vindicated as I had always had the suspicion something like this had been going. But it also meant I was living in a country whose national broadcaster appeared to have absolutely zero respect or regard for its own population.”

Edwards told The National that this happened some years ago but that nothing has changed since and that his experiences chimed with those of other writers.

“I don’t think what I’ve done is deliberately provocative. I’m just surprised it’s not been brought up before,” he said.

Another comedy writer with experience of working with BBC Scotland, who asked not to be named, said the claims made by Edwards did not reflect his experience: “I assure you that the reason Colin’s shows aren’t getting commissioned is because Colin’s shows aren’t funny. Or maybe they are funny but the people involved don’t find them funny.

He continued: “Getting a show made is hard. I am really struggling to advance a lot of my projects and I’m someone with a lot of experience and credits. Contrary to what people think, there isn’t some sort of insider club where everyone’s getting all the work. I’m getting knock backs from every direction. It’s just the nature of the game that most things don’t get made.”

Ewan Angus, commissioning editor TV, BBC Scotland, said: “I totally refute this account of an event that took place several years ago. BBC Scotland is open-minded in its approach to considering, commissioning and producing comedy shows.

“A snapshot of programmes produced from BBC Scotland illustrates this – from Still Game, Bob Servant Independent, Gary: Tank Commander, Jack Docherty’s Stop/Start, Scot Squad to Two Doors Down on television and Breaking the News on radio.

“We cannot commission every script idea we receive and eventually it comes down to a judgement call on what we believe would work best for our audiences. It’s nonsense to suggest that we would dismiss an idea on the grounds it was ‘too intellectual’. I certainly would not have rejected a script idea simply because it referenced Socrates – he was one of the finest midfielders Brazil ever produced.”

Last week, alongside the UK Government’s White Paper on the BBC’s future, a new study claimed Scottish viewers were the most critical. Scots gave the BBC a 5.8 score for general favourability, the lowest of any UK demographic. It was 6.4 in England. Only 37 per cent of Scots thought the licence fee offered good value.

In January, the BBC’s Audience Council Scotland said the broadcaster needed to better reflect the country’s “cultural resurgence,” and that there had “been a failure to address some long-standing issues around news provision and representation in network programming, raising questions about how accountable the BBC is to its licence payers in Scotland.”

Last week, Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Culture Minister said the BBC needed to “evolve to better represent the people of Scotland; improve its commissioning practices to support our world-class creative industries; and adopt appropriate governance and accountability structures, including a unitary board with representation from Scotland.”