Broadcasters and their critics

by
02 November 2006

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From Mr Dominic Crossley-Holland
Sir, — I read with interest and some dismay Gillean Craig’s television review last week. He wrote that he watched both Pope John Paul II’s funeral and Charles and Camilla’s wedding on BBC1 because “it offered the wider coverage. These are, after all, the kind of flagship events that the corporation is supposed to do better than anybody else.”

I’m sorry if Gillean Craig didn’t catch any of the three-and-a-quarter hours of live coverage produced by ITV News and presented by Alastair Stewart in London and James Mates in Rome.

The feedback we’ve had suggests that the commentary team provided the most detailed explanation of the meaning behind the liturgy, and that the use of a wide variety of sources (from the immensely moving scenes in Cracow to pictures from across the UK) meant that ITV’s coverage was highly comprehensive.

In addition, the sensitive and distinctive use of archive and expert analysis helped manage to capture the solemnity of the occasion while also celebrating the remarkable life of Pope John Paul II.

This is in the week in which we are very proud to have also won the prestigious Sandford St Martin Award for the best religious programme of 2004.
DOMINIC CROSSLEY-HOLLAND
ITV Controller, Current Affairs,
 Arts and Religion
200 Grays Inn Road
London WC1X 8HF

From the Revd Simon Ellis
Sir, — I thought Gillean Craig rather uncharitable in his assessment of the BBC’s coverage of the funeral of Pope John Paul II. From where I was sitting, I thought the BBC did a marvellous job, and explained enough about what was going on during the funeral mass.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols sensitively explained parts of the liturgy, so that those who followed were not left patronised or uninformed. Many Roman Catholics are saying it was a success. As for informing us of the names of the Cardinals and other Christian dignitaries, you have to remember that the BBC did not generate the footage: it was produced by the Italian-based Rai-Uno and Vatican TV; so the BBC panel would have had very little time to react to the pictures on the screen.

May I suggest that if Gillean Craig is to criticise the lack of proper identification, he should correctly identify the BBC presenter as Huw Edwards, not Huw Williams.
SIMON ELLIS
The Vicarage, Regent Street
Long Eaton NG10 1JX

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From Prebendary Eric Shegog
Sir, — In her letter last week, “Is Songs of Praise the last bastion?”, Kathleen Robertson was concerned about the lack of religious programmes over Holy Week and Easter. It was not quite as poor as she thought.

 Channel 4 transmitted a one-hour programme at 7 p.m. on Easter Day, about evil, written and presented by the Bishop of Durham. ITV repeated an hour’s programme on Easter Sunday morning in which the Opera Babes made a pilgrimage to the traditional sites in Jerusalem. ITV also repeated a programme about the Shroud, admittedly rather late. All these programmes were made by The Churches Television Centre, currently in Bushey, which this year won the Sandford St Martin Premier Award for religious television.
ERIC SHEGOG
Non-Executive Director, CTVC
9 Colbron Close, Ashwell
Baldock SG7 5TH

 

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