Did The BBC Really Put Up Its Staff In A £279 A Night Hotel For “Lambing Live”?

When does a paying £58 a night for a hotel become a £279-a-night hotel? When you need a good headline to attack the BBC, of course.

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2. A pair of stories today in the Telegraph and Mail Online have attacked the BBC for “extravagance” over its hotel costs while filming Lambing Live.

3. Those headlines would suggest that the BBC paid £279 a night, right? Because that’s what “£279 a night” usually means. Let’s see what a BBC spokesperson has to say:


The crew stayed at the Dalmahoy Marriott, paying a rate of £58 a night. This was the closest hotel to the filming location that was able to accommodate this number and is located on a main road, which is necessary in case of bad weather. This was an economic and practical option which was within BBC policy guidelines.

4. But, wait. £58 is less than £279, isn’t it? Let’s double check:

The Telegraph article asks why the BBC didn’t book into “cheaper and more local B&Bs” instead, quoting the owner of the Meadows B&B in nearby West Linton as saying: “I would have loved to have people staying at my B&B, but I am probably not as exclusive as the Dalmahoy.”

The Meadows has three rooms, two of which start from £65 per night. For those of you keeping score, £58 is also less than £65.

5. Now, who wants to play a game of “how far down the Telegraph article did you have to read before you discovered the entire story was nonsense”?

Paragraph 20, ladies and gentlemen. The Mail, in fairness, had it higher up. In paragraph 13.

6. On the whole, it looks like the headline should actually have been this:

7. UPDATE — 1:51 p.m. BST: Oh look, the Telegraph seems to have changed its headline.

Although apparently the hotel is still “expensive”, even though it wasn’t really. As the BBC spokesperson also pointed out, having all your crew in one place rather than scattered around various B&Bs saves a large amount on daily transport costs to the filming site.

8. It’s also worth noting that Lambing Live is one of BBC2’s more popular shows:

In the week of its broadcast this year, it provided four out of the top 10 shows on the channel that week, consistently attracting an audience of over 2 million, which is pretty good for BBC2. As a week-long live outside broadcast filming 24 hours a day in the middle of the countryside, it’s obviously going to be more complex and expensive to film than an edition of University Challenge, but viewers seem to appreciate it.

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