THE creator of smash drama Line of Duty has accused Downing Street of launching an “attack” against “unbiased programming” on the BBC.

Jed Mercurio’s police thriller, starring Martin Compston, is amongst the broadcaster’s biggest hits.

Work has begun on series six and the showrunner is also responsible for Richard Madden hit Bodyguard.

Yesterday he hit out at the UK Government over reports that Boris Johnson will scrap the TV licence fee and make the BBC a subscription service.

According to The Sunday Times, the broadcaster could be forced to sell off many of its radio stations in a “massive pruning back” of its activities.

The source told the paper that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “really strident” on the need for serious reform, which may include reducing the number of BBC television channels, downsizing the website and more restrictive contracts for on-screen talent.

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A number of serving Tory MPs distanced themselves from the move, including Damian Collins and Huw Merriman, who called it a “vendetta”.

Meanwhile, Damian Green MP, Theresa May’s former deputy, tweeted: “Destroying the BBC wasn’t in our manifesto and would be cultural vandalism. ‘Vote Tory and close Radio 2’. Really?”

Mercurio addressed his response to his 80,000-plus social media following, posting: “The BBC is not without failings, but this attack targets its commitment to unbiased programming across all genres. An attack launched by despotic liars to destroy truth and accountability. And like Brexit they hope they’ll make a few quid on the side.”

The National: Jed MercurioJed Mercurio

He went on to clarify: “In my experience, it’s true they aim to be unbiased.

“However I accept that many people sincerely believe they don’t achieve it.”

The UK Government is already consulting on proposals to decriminalise non-payment of the licence fee, and ministers have suggested it could be abolished altogether when the BBC’s charter comes up for renewal in 2027.

It was reported that the review will be led by former culture secretary John Whittingdale, who was reappointed to his old department in last week’s reshuffle.

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A No 10 spokesperson declined to comment on the remarks. However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News to be “cautious” over anonymous sources, saying: “The BBC is a much loved national treasure. We all want it to be a huge success. But everybody, including the BBC themselves, recognises that in a changing world the BBC itself will have to change.

“But it is simply not the case that there is some preordained decision about the future funding of the BBC out there. The charter runs to 2027 so there is long way to go on all these decisions.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The BBC plays an important role for the country at home and abroad, it is the bedrock of our world-beating creative industries, and reaches millions of people every day.

“The public back it and they will undoubtedly have their own views about the future.”