BBC won’t broadcast Attenborough episode over fear of rightwing backlash: report

According to The Guardian, the BBC is anxious about a backlash from Conservative politicians and the right-wing press

Published : 10 March 2023, 08:58 PM
Updated : 10 March 2023, 08:58 PM

Fearing a right-wing backlash, the BBC has cancelled an episode of Sir David Attenborough's planned show.

According to the Guardian, the BBC is anxious about a backlash from Conservative politicians and the right-wing press as a result of a presenter and environmentalist's upcoming series focusing on the destruction of the natural world.

The Guardian also reported that the decision has enraged the programme's creators, with a BBC insider stating that the corporation "has bowed to pressure from lobbying groups with “dinosaurian ways”.

The BBC strongly denied this was the case and insisted the episode in question was never intended for broadcast.

Attenborough’s highly anticipated new series, Wild Isles, looks at the beauty of nature in the British Isles.

Narrated by Attenborough, it is expected to be a hit, with five episodes scheduled to go out in primetime slots on BBC One.

A sixth episode has also been filmed, which is understood to be a stark look at the losses of nature in the UK and what has caused the declines, the Guardian said.

It is also understood to include some examples of rewilding, a concept that has been controversial in some rightwing circles, according to the report.

The documentary series was part-funded by nature charities the WWF and RSPB, but the final episode will not be broadcast along with the others and will instead be available only on the BBC’s iPlayer service.

All six episodes were narrated by Attenborough, and made by the production company Silverback Films, responsible for previous series including Our Planet, in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit.

Senior sources at the BBC told the Guardian that the decision not to show the sixth episode was made to fend off potential critique from the political right.

The Telegraph newspaper attacked the BBC for creating the series and for taking funding from “two charities previously criticised for their political lobbying” – the WWF and RSPB.

One source at the broadcaster, who asked not to be named, said “lobbying groups that are desperately hanging on to their dinosaurian ways” such as the farming and game industry would “kick off” if the show had too political a message.

In a statement provided after the story was first published, the BBC said: “This is totally inaccurate, there is no ‘sixth episode’. Wild Isles is – and always was - a five part series and does not shy away from environmental content. We have acquired a separate film for iPlayer from the RSPB and WWF and Silverback Films about people working to preserve and restore the biodiversity of the British Isles.”