The BBC is “rewriting British history to promote a woke agenda”, a group of the country’s leading academics has warned, as they cited multiple examples of “bias” in its documentaries.
A report said the BBC was failing in its duty of impartiality by allowing “politically motivated campaigners” to present “tendentious” views of British history as fact.
Lord Roberts, the author and broadcaster, accused the BBC of pursuing a “fatwa” against Sir Winston Churchill. The dossier said documentaries on subjects including slavery, colonialism and the Irish famine distort the truth about Britain’s past through inaccuracy or omitting important facts.
Marie Kawthar Daouda, a lecturer at Oxford University, said the BBC needs to “stop apologising” for Britain’s history. Jeremy Black, the former professor of history at Exeter University, said the BBC was guilty of “systemic failure” through an inability to present a rounded picture of the past.
The report was compiled by History Reclaimed, whose co-editors are David Abulafia and Robert Tombs – both of whom are professors emeritus at Cambridge University. Supporters of the organisation include Lord Chartres, the former bishop of London; Vernon Bogdanor, professor of government at King’s College, London; Niall Ferguson, the broadcaster and fellow of Stanford University, and Lawrence Goldman, emeritus fellow of St Peter’s College, Oxford.
A midterm review of the BBC’s royal charter, launched by the then culture secretary Nadine Dorriesearlier this year, is currently examining whether the corporation needs to be reformed to help it achieve greater impartiality.
The authors of the report, titled Can We Trust The BBC With Our History?, called on the BBC to tighten its editorial guidelines and set up an advisory panel of historians to reduce “groupthink” among programme makers.
Programmes highlighted in the dossier include The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, in which the comedian visits Freetown in Sierra Leone and discusses Britain’s role in the slave trade, without mentioning that the city – so-called because it was the destination of freed slaves – was set up by the British.
A current affairs programme suggested the Bengal famine of 1943 was a consequence of racism on the part of Churchill, despite the fact that Britain sent large shipments of food to the Indian region in the face of wartime food shortages.