DURHAM Cathedral this week defended its decision to allow the
BBC to use it as the setting for a fatal shoot-out in the finale of
the series Inspector George Gently, a police drama set in
In the episode - broadcast on Sunday of last week, and watched
by 4.3 million viewers - young choristers were seen escaping before
characters were shot dead in the central nave.
The newspaper The Northern Echo reported comments from
critics such as Avril Newey, of Coventry, who said: "The violence
seemed so out of place. I am aware of the huge amounts of money
needed to keep our churches and cathedrals in good order, but this
was so against everything that the cathedral should stand for."
Simon Nickerson, from Coalville, Leicestershire, said: "While I
appreciate that this was, of course, only a fictional
representation, I consider the violent nature of these scenes at
the cathedral completely inappropriate and unethical.
The Chapter of Durham Cathedral, however, said that it had given
much consideration to the programme's content, and had sought the
advice of the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Justin Welby, before
allowing filming to go ahead.
"We felt the episode reflected the cathedral's history of having
been a place of both sanctuary and brutality, and was a kind of
morality play in which it was obvious the perpetrator of the
violence was bad, and good and evil were clearly identified," a
"Bad things sometimes happen in sacred places. A cathedral
should be a place where issues of justice and morality can be
explored, both through formal worship and through culture and the
It is not the first time that location filming in cathedrals has
prompted complaints. In 2005, there were protests after the
cloisters and chapter house of Lincoln Cathedral were used as
locations in the film The Da Vinci Code, after the Dean
and Chapter of Westminster Abbey had refused permission to film
In 2007, the authorities considered taking legal action against
Sony for featuring the interior of Manchester Cathedral in a
violent PlayStation video-game without its permission.