BBC’s use of fake images extends to natural history

The footage that embarrassed the BBC

The BBC is to launch a review into the Human Planet natural history series where four faked scenes have been exposed.

The review will be conducted internally by the BBC policy unit rather than any outside body and is expected to take several months.

The eight-part series, first broadcast in 2011 and narrated by John Hurt, has since been available in box sets and on several streaming services, including Netflix, and has been sold to 30 countries.

The BBC announced on Thursday that it had finally withdrawn the series from distribution after scenes involving a wolf, a tarantula, a tribal treehouse 150 ft off the ground and a whale hunt were found to have been faked.

Tuppence Stone, a producer of one episode where two examples of fakery were revealed, still works for the BBC’s natural history unit.

Another, Tom Hugh-Jones, who was a producer on the episodes involving the treehouse and the harpooning of a whale, left the BBC of his own volition in 2016 to join Plimsoll Productions, an independent company based in Bristol, like the natural history unit.

Plimsoll’s chief executive, Grant Mansfield, said he had no qualms about employing Hugh-Jones: “I’m satisfied editorial decisions on Human Planet were taken at a more senior level than Tom’s.”

Hugh-Jones did not direct the episode with the faked treehouse and whale sequences. He is currently working as producer of a new Plimsoll series, Hostile Planet, which is not being made for the BBC.

The corporation believes it has now got much more rigorous training for natural history programme makers so such decisions should not have to be made again.

Sunday Times, April 29, 2018

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