Thursday, 20 December 2012

Censored? Surely not!

I received a phone call this morning from the BBC in Newcastle telling me that it was unlikely that our 100 Faces film could be posted on YouTube after its broadcast in the North East and Cumbria tomorrow night. 

This means that people living outside of the region will not have an opportunity to see what has turned out to be a very beautiful and thought-provoking film.

Initially, I believe, there was some (justifiable) concern that those hateful Internet trolls, who tend to besiege YouTube with little pieces of tinsel-coated bile, could well end up saying something vicious or personal about any number of our 100 participants. The BBC, quite rightly, has a duty to protect those who take part in projects of this nature, but at the same time isn't allowed to veto inappropriate or hurtful comments left on YouTube for fear of immediately entering the same sort of media maelstrom that the vote-rigging scandal created five years ago.

The problem in all of this, of course, is that I've always tried to create work which I hope will reach as wide an audience as possible. No one creates art to have it not broadcast because people might write insulting things about it! 

I dug a little deeper and discovered that the BBC's YouTube department were iffy about placing 100 Faces on YouTube because it features "vulnerable people." And, by vulnerable people, they mean children. Children in this case who have volunteered to be in a project and whose parents have signed release forms which allow them to be featured. 

...And so the fall out from the Jimmy Savile business continues to engulf us and the world, in my view, has officially gone mad. 

But how does this play out? Will the BBC be forced to stop making films which feature children? Will we end up in a place where all young faces will need to be pixilated? Will children be banned from being in BBC dramas, and need to be CGI'd or portrayed by adults or puppets? I certainly will need to think very carefully about featuring under 18s in future projects, because by doing so, I could well end up restricting the development my own career. 

I have decided to put 100 Faces on my own YouTube channel. It won't have the reach that the BBC YouTube channel would have, but at least I can manage comments made about the piece, and make sure those featured in the film are protected from reading anything inappropriate

I want to make it clear in all of this that what is happening is by no means the BBC's fault. As we know, the BBC is coming under a huge amount of (in my view largely unfair) criticism in the media, and is simply doing what it can to transparently address the general public's concerns. 

No other broadcaster would be able to commission and produce a film as beautiful as 100 Faces, and every time I work at the BBC, particularly for the remarkable BBC English regions, I feel extremely proud. The BBC is the envy of the world, and something we should all be proud to invest in - and should want to protect at all costs. 

The purpose of this blog is simply to show Joe public the direct impact of their jumping on the witch hunt band wagon. If you want a generation of children who can't be comforted by adults even if they're distressed and can't be shown on television even if their parents give express permission, then we just need to keep doing what we're doing. 


  1. Surely the BBC could put 100 Faces out nationally on one of their many other channels!

  2. it would truly be a shame if the viewing of this remarkable, thought provoking, beautiful film is restricted