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BEEB'S RECIPE AXE LEAVES BAD TASTE; Food website shutdown leads to huge backlash from public & TV chefs.

Byline: ASHLEIGH RAINBIRD

THE BBC's surprise decision to remove 11,000 recipes from its online database has cooked up a storm - prompting a fierce backlash from the public and famous chefs.

As part of measures to save PS15million from the licence fee-funded editorial spending, the Beeb announced plans to scrap its BBC Food website - causing widespread outrage.

Recipes, including ones from The Great British Bake Off and Nigella Lawson, will no longer be searchable and will be almost impossible to find. The move followed criticism from the Government that BBC content was too "soft".

But within hours of yesterday's announcement, 140,000 people had signed a petition calling for the recipe directory to be saved.

Hairy Bikers David Myers, 58, and Si King, 49, who have 477 recipes on the website - told the Mirror: "We are saddened by the closure of the BBC recipe site, both as contributors and also cooks who like to use it. It's a great resource which we feel very privileged to be a part of. We write recipes that are intended to be used and everything that is out there that we do on the television we want people to have access to and to be able to cook."

Speaking in a radio interview, Dave added: "I think it's ridiculous. I use the website as a consumer. A lot of people use it - so it's good value for your licence."

Si said: "They need to get creative.

We're not sure whether it was a move motivated by the BBC or whether it was inflicted on the BBC by Government cuts. It's just daft."

TV chef Brian Turner, a Saturday Kitchen regular who campaigns to encourage people to get into cooking, added: "At a time when less information and recipes are passed on to our young people in schools, this is not the time to be taking away a means to educate them about what to eat and help them live healthy lives."

'Austerity cooking' writer and activist Jack Monroe vowed to produce her own catalogue of free recipes, posting online: "I learned to cook on the dole using free recipes online and for the BBC to reduc this vital service is an abomination. I hope I can go some way to filling the gap left for free, instructional, simple recipe resources, which is vital for so many people."

Parenting forum Mumsnet last night offered to host the BBC's recipes on its own website to help the many people who "rely on them on a daily basis".

In a letter to James Purnell, the Beeb's director of strategy, chief executive Justine Roberts said: "We'd like to offer to migrate the BBC's recipes on to Mumsnet, where they can live alongside our own while retaining their BBC branding, and so continue to be accessed, for free, by the British public.

"The BBC's collection of recipes represents many years of thought, creativity and resource. For them to disappear forever would be a real loss.

"As is clear from the response to this morning's announcement, many people rely on them on a daily basis."

Yesterday, Tory Culture Secretary John Whittingdale insisted he was not to blame for the recipe "mothballing". He said: "It's not my job to tell the BBC whether to broadcast The Voice or Strictly Come Dancing or, indeed, to put recipes up on its website. We have said firstly that the BBC needs to be more distinctive.

"It also has to be sensitive to its market impact and not be going out of its way to compete with commercial offerings."

He added: "If people want to access news, the BBC is a trusted brand for news provision and it is right there should be a BBC news website. Beyond that, there have been complaints about soft news, magazine-type content. Newspapers in particular have been quite sensitive to the competition offered by the BBC online."

In the plans, recipes aired on TV shows will be searchable for 30 days. Afterwards, their search engine links will not be optimised - making them hard to find online - and the website will not be updated. Some recipes may move to the commercial BBC Good Food website.

A BBC spokesman said: "We are glad so many people care so much about all our content. But we have never said we'd delete all the recipes and nor will we."

ashleigh.rainbird@mirror.co.uk

"I think it's ridiculous. I use the site myself, lots of people do, it's good DAVID MYERS HAIRY BIKER ON BBC FOOD SITE

CAPTION(S):

CHEESED OFF David and Si

BAKE OFFLINE Judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

TAKE AWAY Recipe on BBC

OIL OVER Nigella Lawson's recipes will 'disappear'
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 18, 2016
Words:781
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