Camilla Swift Camilla Swift

Hunting is history – so why would the BBC pretend otherwise?

Of all the BBC’s output, the Antiques Roadshow is one of the programmes least likely to cause a row. Alright, so you might disagree with the odd estimate, or argue that some of the ‘treasures’ unearthed from attics aren’t bona fide antiques. But on the whole, it tends to be pretty inoffensive.

Well it was, at least, until the Earl of Lonsdale claimed that programme makers had banned him from showing off his family’s collection of hunting memorabilia when filming at his home in Cumbria.

So what happened here then? The Earl suspects that the decision was made due to the Beeb’s fears of offending animal rights campaigners; the BBC, on the other hand, has stated that they ‘do not have a general policy on hunting antiques.’ If that’s true, then what was the problem? I understand that BBC staff might disapprove of hunting and blood sports. But it does seem slightly odd that a programme – which, by definition, concerns itself with the historical  – has decided to pretend that foxhunting never existed.

Earlier this year the BBC released the findings of an independent review into their rural affairs programming, which showed that there was a ‘deficit in its network coverage of rural England’, and that audiences felt there was ‘an unintentional urban bias’ in their news coverage. That wasn’t news to anyone who understands the countryside and watches Countryfile, their flagship rural programme, which has been accused by the Countryside Alliance of presenting a ‘sanitised’ version of the countryside.

It does seem a shame, however, that having bothered to conduct an independent review into their rural programming, the BBC still seem to be living on an entirely different planet from much of the UK.

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