"It was a very human situation" says BBC2 controller of Top Gear fall out

It was inevitable during her 'Meet the Controller' session that BBC2's Kim Shillinglaw would be asked for her take on the 'Top Gear' incident that led to Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond leaving the programme earlier this year but this didn't seem to have much impact on her preparedness.

When the question came about halfway through her forty-five minute interview, she offered a faltering summary of the incident and its fallout. It was - she said - "very sad... and important to remember that it's about human beings" and that "it was a very human situation". She also spoke winsomely of "human frailties" which appeared to be a reference to Clarkson's delicate psyche rather than producer Oisin Tymon's delicate cheekbone.

The situation, she said, had reached a point where it had to be acknowledged that some of the behaviour was not acceptable which presumably referred to the actual bodily harm that Clarkson inflicted on his producer.

With that out of the way, she was able to speak enthusiastically and with a good deal more coherence about the man who will replace Clarkson as the main host of 'Top Gear' when it returns. Chris Evans, she says, is "incredibly spontaneous, incredibly surprising, and you never know what he's going to do next," which make him sound a little prone to human frailties too - but only time will tell.

Interviewer Tim Hincks asked her about the tendency of those in the higher echelons of the BBC to use the shutting down of her station as an alarmist response to each funding crisis. Even though the phrase: 'If this carries on then it won't be long before we have to shut BBC2' reverberates through the news cycle with sufficient regularity to be rightly dismissed as an empty threat, she described its latest airing as "a genuinely scary moment" and certainly isn't complacent about the possibility that the station will face threats in the future.

Shillinglaw spoke of the need to make BBC2 "more contemporary... more part of the national conversation". More practically, she has sought to update the station's image with new idents and changes to the overall presentation, plus she has plans to stabilise the schedule.

She was reminded by Tim Hincks - who proved very capable in the interviewer role - that she had once said "BBC2 should show its knickers" which was slightly at odds with her claim that "BBC2 is unambiguously a channel for grown-ups" especially as this was said to distinguish its output from that of Channel 4 where a display of knickers is seldom more than an ad break away.

Several coming programmes were excerpted including 'Cradle to Grave' - the comedy based on Danny Baker's memoir; an intense-looking drama featuring Ben Whishaw called 'London Spy'; and a dark comedy called 'Stag' by 'The Wrong Mans' director Jim Field-Smith.

Speaking with some passion about BBC2's role in developing new comedy talent, Shillinglaw made it clear she takes some pride in the idea that comedians themselves hold it in high regard and she's looking forward to experimenting with comedy double bills at nine o'clock.

She was reluctant to be drawn into describing a programme she envies on another channel as she doesn't "broadly look at [other shows] and say 'that would sit beautifully on BBC2'", before admitting a love of 'The Big Bang Theory' and an admiration for Channel 4's 'Humans' though she said nothing about whether she enjoyed their 'frailties'.

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