Is Sir David Attenborough Cancelled?

picture of earth surrounded by words 'one world'
Megan Mahoney

The BBC have announced that in Sir David Attenborough’s new series Wild Isles, they will not be broadcasting one episode of the series due to the risk of ‘right wing backlash’. The episode is thought to discuss nature loss in the UK and the reasons for it. This article will explore why the episode is potentially controversial and why censoring Attenborough is an issue.

What is wrong with episode six of Wild Isles?

All the episodes in this series focus on the beauty of Britain in the much-loved quintessentially Attenborough style. While five of the episodes are currently being aired on BBC One and later on iPlayer, the sixth and disputed episode is reportedly a separate documentary and will only be aired on iPlayer. It is funded by charities RSPB, WWF and Silverback and has a narrower focus on ways to conserve British nature rather than just reflecting on its beauty. Furthermore, it speaks about a concept called rewilding, which centres on restoring land to its natural state. For an unknown reason to me, this concept is controversial among some right-wing circles. The episode’s exclusion from airing on TV and being a solely iPlayer documentary has evoked criticism, with many pondering why the discussion of nature’s destruction should be too controversial for the BBC to broadcast on mainstream TV.

Why is censoring Attenborough an issue?

Conversation surrounding climate and nature should be at the top of the political and media agenda 

The documentary could not come at a more poignant time. The IPCC recently published a dark and terrifying report on climate change; they tell us to “act now or it’s too late”. Therefore, conversation surrounding climate and nature should be at the top of the political and media agenda, instead of being pushed aside to a streaming platform. Most people in our generation believe in anthropogenic climate change and may take active steps to reduce individual carbon footprint and destructive habits. Furthermore, our generation are the people who can easily access this documentary on iPlayer and are reading the discourse surrounding it on social media. Whereas the old uncle who thinks climate change is not real is the exact demographic who should be educated by this sixth episode. Yet, they may not be able to navigate iPlayer. Therefore, even if the episode is not part of the main series, it deserves a place on the BBC’s scheduling.

What are the BBC scared of?

The BBC have made another contested decision surrounding censorship and politics recently. Another beloved national treasure, Gary Lineker, was criticised heavily by the BBC for his public views on the government’s controversial immigration policy. The BBC’s motto is to “inform, educate and entertain” yet they are ignoring the most important issues of our time. Furthermore, it is a gross injustice to not inform and educate the large audience that an Attenborough documentary would garner about the destruction of nature. Therefore, make an extra effort to watch episode six of Wild Isles and show older relatives how to access it so that everyone can be informed, educated and entertained by Sir David Attenborough.

Megan Mahoney

Featured image courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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