November 25, 2021
Dramatist who charged the BBC with leftwing bias when it postponed his work The Falklands PlayIan Curteis, who has died aged 86, was a television dramatist of some distinction who initiated the charge of leftwing bias against the BBC, long before it was fashionable to do so, when his documentary drama The Falklands Play, which the corporation had commissioned in 1983, was postponed, then rescheduled, and finally deferred indefinitely. A heavily cut version of the piece was eventually broadcast in 2002, with Patricia Hodge as a sympathetically portrayed Margaret Thatcher and James Fox as Lord Carrington, the foreign secretary. But the damage, as far as Curteis and many others were concerned, had already been done.
Ian Curteis obituary
Broadly speaking, the play showed Thatcher doing right by the nation at some personal cost to herself and thus, thought Curteis, did not chime with what he took to be the BBC’s political position. But the director general Alasdair Milne’s point was that the portrayal of the events surrounding the Falklands war was too sensitive for broadcast with the 1983 general election looming. And by the time the play was rescheduled, there was another election around the corner. In 1986, Anglia Television expressed interest in producing the play, but the BBC refused to release the copyright; Michael Grade, the director of programmes, rubbed salt in the wound by announcing that the production had been halted because of the poor quality of the script.
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