BBC Slammed for Pulling Episode of David Attenborough Nature Series for Fear of Conservative Backlash (Report)

A Green Party politician says it’s “an unforgivable dereliction of its duty to public service broadcasting”

Wild Isles, David Attenborough
Wild Isles, David Attenborough (BBC)

The BBC is under fire after reports that it is refusing to air an episode of Sir David Attenborough’s new nature series “Wild Isles” to avoid upsetting conservative politicians and press, The Guardian reported Friday.

The 96-year-old Attenborough narrates the five-episode docuseries about the wild animals in the British Isles and Ireland. The disputed sixth episode, which the BBC claims is entirely separate from the rest of the series, addresses the damage done to the natural environment and its flora and fauna.

The decision was made after The Telegraph newspaper attacked the BBC in October for accepting money from “two charities previously criticized for their political lobbying,” referring to the World Wildlife Fund and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, who partially funded the project.

In a statement to the Guardian, 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.”

An anonymous source at the broadcaster told The Guardian that the decision was also made to appease the “lobbying groups that are desperately hanging on to their dinosaurian ways,” such as the farming and game industries.

“For the BBC to censor of one of the nation’s most informed and trusted voices on the nature and climate emergencies is nothing short of an unforgivable dereliction of its duty to public service broadcasting,” Caroline Lucas, the Green party MP for Brighton Pavilion, told The Guardian. “This government has taken a wrecking ball to our environment — putting over 1,700 pieces of environmental legislation at risk, setting an air pollution target which is a decade too late, and neglecting the scandal of our sewage-filled waterways — which cannot go unexamined and unchallenged by the public.

“BBC bosses must not be cowed by antagonistic, culture war-stoking government ministers, putting populist and petty political games above delivering serious action to protect and restore our natural world. This episode simply must be televised,” Lucas added.

Chris Packham, who hosts “Springwatch” on the BBC, told The Guardian, “At this time, in our fight to save the world’s biodiversity, it is irresponsible not to put that at the forefront of wildlife broadcasting.”

The series is produced by Silverback Films in collaboration with the BBC Natural History Unit.