The UK’s Telegraph reported that the BBC cancelled a 90-minute drama about the youngest surviving winner of the UK’s highest award for valor because “it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.” The BBC blocked the project that would have honored the incredible bravery and resilience of Private Johnson Beharry, a man who didn’t hesitate to risk his own life two separate times for his fellow soldiers. His Victoria Cross citation reads like a blockbuster Hollywood action script, but instead, it’s the real deal. Sounds uplifting and encouraging, and it could even be a real morale booster, right? Well, for the Beeb, that’s the problem (emphasis mine throughout):
For the BBC, however, his story is "too positive" about the conflict.
The corporation has cancelled the commission for a 90-minute drama about Britain's youngest surviving Victoria Cross hero because it feared it would alienate members of the audience opposed to the war in Iraq.
The BBC's retreat from the project, which had the working title Victoria Cross, has sparked accusations of cowardice and will reignite the debate about the broadcaster's alleged lack of patriotism.
A project insider exposed what many people have suspected about the BBC, which notoriously refuses to use the term terrorist to avoid making “value judgments”:
"The BBC has behaved in a cowardly fashion by pulling the plug on the project altogether," said a source close to the project. "It began to have second thoughts last year as the war in Iraq deteriorated. It felt it couldn't show anything with a degree of positivity about the conflict.
"It needed to tell stories about Iraq which reflected the fact that some members of the audience didn't approve of what was going on. Obviously a story about Johnson Beharry could never do that. You couldn't have a scene where he suddenly turned around and denounced the war because he just wouldn't do that.
"The film is now on hold and it will only make it to the screen if another broadcaster picks it up."
The BBC wouldn’t even show a positive story about a soldier because it interfered with the political message they wanted to send. They are clearly defining what they value, and it shows they are willing to give up good entertainment simply because it goes against their world view. The article then touched on the growing belief that the BBC only cares about negative stories about Iraq:
The BBC's decision to pull out will only confirm the fears of critics that television drama is only interested in telling bad news stories about the war.
The Ministry of Defence recently expressed concern about Channel 4's The Mark of Cain which showed British troops brutalising Iraqi detainees. That programme was temporarily pulled from the schedules after Iran detained 15 British troops
So, positive stories about Iraq are out and negative stories are in. Sounds like the US. There is social power in the entertainment side of the TV business, and the industry and the activists know it. The power of imagination and good writing can subtly influence in ways that lectures and screaming cannot.
If there is any doubt that Beharry’s story should be told, read his citation in a BBC article that describes his amazing heroism (back when the BBC wasn’t worried about the “wrong” message that a positive story about Iraq could send), or read a less detailed summary in this Telegraph article.