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TV shoot-out defended

28 September 2012

by Nigel Burnham

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 the 1960s. 

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 spokesman said.

"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 performing arts."

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 there.

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.

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