Thursday, August 30, 2007

When TV dramatists self-censor

In The Guardian, Mark Lawson cites two recent examples to argue that the main threat to TV scriptwriters' freedom of expression is self-censorship.
Ashley Pharoah, co-creator of Life On Mars, admitted that he had removed racist insults from the mouth of DCI Gene Hunt, after they caused "intakes of breath" among cast and crew at the first readthrough. Pharoah's explanation was that the success of the series depended on viewers liking Hunt. However, Hunt's swipes at women and gay people remained intact. And the series editor of BBC1's Casualty, commenting on newspaper reports that the editorial policy unit had insisted that two Islamist terrorists in a script were changed to animal rights activists, insisted that the switch had been made by the writer, who apparently feared inviting a reaction from extremists.

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