I just thought I'd revisit this thread with an interesting bit of news with a twist, from the UK, on the cycling front.
One of my old UK cycling mates had alerted me to a BBC1 TV proggie in the 1st week of Dec.: The War on Britain's Roads.
After a lot of mucking about with free-use proxy servers, I managed to see a few bits of it, and it looked surprisingly good, and worriesome.
However, I was very
surprised to read in the Guardian's
bike blog that a lot of it was apparently staged (made up) and quite deliberately alarmist, and without any good substantiation. It was apparently a fake
- a well-fabricated docu-drama, and the Guardian bloke (a fairly keen and experienced cyclist, it seems) fair ripped it apart - and rightly so, IMHO.
I confess myself baffled though. I know that a lot of the BBC (OKA the Biased Broadcasting Corporation) material has to be treated with circumspection on several well-defined subjects/issues where they seem to have to maintain their religio-political ideology and leanings - but cycling?
Anyway, it had certainly taken me in. Gullible,
I suppose. The thing is, I just hadn't thought
to question the truth
of it. I mean, why should I ? Why on earth would one need to suspect that the BBC might lie about something so banal, and
that they might try to get you all alarmed and wound-up about it in the process, and with such a deliberately fabricated story - and then lie about it when questioned by a journalist?
Gullible, that is, until I read the Guardian post: BBC's War on Britain's Roads: even more fake than we feared
(Copied below sans
embedded hyperlinks/images, with my emphasis.)
BBC's War on Britain's Roads: even more fake than we feared
Guardian - Bike blog.
Posted by Peter Walker Thursday 13 December 2012 10.39 GMT
Footage passed off as genuine in cycling documentary was choreographed by a filmmaker with paid participants, it emerges
Extracts from the BBC programme including footage of the courier race Link to this video
I'm not the sort to go picking a fight with the BBC. This is the Guardian, after all, rather than the Daily Mail. But I'll confess: I'm feeling a bit disappointed with the corporation at the moment.
It's all down to The War on Britain's Roads, the high profile, overly alarmist and somewhat skewed documentary based on footage from cyclists' helmet cameras which aired on BBC1 just over a week ago. I've written previously about the programme's wider faults and the condemnation these brought from MPs and cycling groups, but this is about something very particular.
My contention – and I'd say it's is a fairly serious one – is that the BBC and Leopard Films, the independent production company involved, would appear to have seriously misled viewers over a key element of the programme and are failing to own up to it.
If you watched the programme you'll probably recall the final sequence, showing a group of couriers in London taking part in an "alleycat" race in which they ignore just about every road rule going so as to complete a pre-set route fastest. The footage is undoubtedly dramatic, but utterly out of context: I've cycled in London off and on for 20 years, including as a courier myself for a time, and have never seen riding so reckless.
It also emerged that this footage was filmed for a commercial DVD by a US semi-professional filmmaker, Lucas Brunelle, and dates from six years ago.
All this we knew before the programme was broadcast. However, there is more.
A blog post published yesterday by Bill Chidley, usually known as Buffalo Bill, long-time stalwart and chronicler of the London courier scene who set up the Moving Target courier magazine, gives some fascinating extra background.
He points to a 2006 Moving Target article about the filming of the race which describes how Brunelle essentially choreographed the action and offered money to spur the riders on.
Childley summarises it thus:
In other words, the idea was to create a race with maximum chaos on the road, and that this was what Lucas was looking for. To encourage the riders to go as fast as possible, and take as many risks as possible, Lucas also had put up £300 in cash prizes.Let's contrast this with the narration on The War on Britain's Roads:
Races across cities, like this one in London, are being organised by couriers to showcase their skills and speed.
No mention of the 2006 vintage. No mention of the filmmaker's orchestration. No mention of the filmmaker's cash.
Before the film was broadcast a BBC spokesman told me the alleycat footage was "genuine". He said:
The footage has since been released commercially, but the fact remains that it depicts real behaviour on the streets of London.That's broadly comparable to paying school pupils £100 to be filmed punching each other and using the footage to illustrate a story about school discipline. Yes, it happened, but it was crafted and manipulated.
What is worse still is that Leopard Films and the BBC apparently knew all about this from the start. Brunelle says they interviewed him, although none of this was used in the programme.
Oddly enough, it turns out that Brunelle never even gave them permission to use the footage, something he told the cycling industry journalist Carlton Reid, who has written at length about the programme, in an email.
I asked the BBC and the PR people for Leopard Films to confirm they knew the truth about the courier footage, the orchestration by Brunelle and the cash prizes, and why they did not tell viewers.
Their response pointed me to a BBC blog post by the programme's executive producer which blandly reiterated the "authentic footage" line and ignored the fakery involved. Their email ended:
The BBC and Leopard Films are in agreement that Samantha Anstiss's blog on the BBC website speaks for itself on this and they will be offering no further comment.That's the PR equivalent of them sticking their fingers in their ears and humming loudly. It's frankly pathetic.
To me – and I'm aware I'm writing as a cyclist – this seems equally shocking as the infamous dodgy trailer from 2007 which wrongly implied the Queen had stormed out of a photoshoot. That stunt cost the jobs of the BBC1 controller and the chief creative officer of the independent programme maker.
I'm not suggesting anyone should resign here – as I said at the start, this isn't the Daily Mail. But it does give a sharp lesson in the how little the BBC seemingly cares for truth when those maligned are not the monarchy, just mere cyclists.
The only things perhaps more surprising about the revelation of yet another fake BBC documentary (e.g., as QED in the polar bears documentary), were:
- (a) that the Guardian seemed to have actually done a piece of investigative journalism. Though admittedly it is not mainstream news stuff, I can't recall when I last (if ever) heard/saw that the Grundian had done a piece of investigative journalism.
- (b) that the Guardian had actually been critical of the BBC over this matter. The BBC and the Guardian had always previously seemed to have been joined at the hip - at least, as far as religio-political ideology and spin went.
Still, this has left me and my mates at the cycling club more than a little
annoyed with the BBC.
You see, we exiled poms get annoyed, but can accept that the beeb's religio-political ideology led to, for example:
- the beeb determining in 2007 a policy, QED per their 28Gate documented conference, (refer Twenty-EightGate - The BBC's latest scandal) that they would maintain a bias in favour of CAGW (Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming) airtime, and deliberately give correspondingly minimal airtime to skeptical views/science.
- the beeb dumping the brilliant broadcaster and naturalist Prof. David Bellamy (we all still miss his programmes) because - QED per Bellamy - he solidly refuted the scientific basis of the theory of AGW and alarmism of CAGW.
- the beeb keeping the marvellous Sir David Attenborough on because he apparently toed the party line in this regard. For example, I notice that he never gets into a position where he has to concede that something is attributable to AGW/CAGW, but neatly sidesteps the issue altogether by merely agreeing affably when some talking head explains to him why it is so. (I saw him doing this with the "Hockey Stick" a few months back. He was superb.)
- the beeb's (QED) employing and apparently protecting, covering up and promoting - if not deliberately encouraging - someone who was apparently a known paedophile/child molester/rapist (take your pick) from the '60s onwards (Le So Vile), and the deliberate concealment of this from authorities. I think the sick ideological rationale here was along the lines of "consensual sex with children is OK", but then I read that some people involved/associated suggest that it was probably fuelled by money for procuring children for the rich elite. The mind boggles.
- the beeb's deliberate broadcasting of despicable, fake and unverified "war" footage (QED) - photos and video - from Palestine, depicting individuals ostensibly injured by Israeli return fire in retaliation for Hamas rocket attacks - the injured being caught in later footage apparently miraculously recovered and with no injuries from their mortal wounds. Plus one tragic scene during the recent Hamas rocket attack on Israel, of a service for a little Palestinian girl who had ostensibly been killed by Israeli return fire. It turned out later that she had been killed by a Hamas rocket exploding on launch. How could that be? Because Hamas has a strategy (QED) of deliberately using civilians as a protective shield and deploying its rocket-launchers embedded in domestic suburbs. (A war crime.)
You might ask: So what is annoying about all that? What's wrong with a bit (or a lot) of bias and ideology, if it is "for the greater good", or something?
Well, aside from the absurdity and "wrongness" of it all - on many levels - the British taxpayer is obliged by law to fund the BBC - it's a tax, you see. So the taxpayers are paying the BBC to do all that, and more - and the BBC pay themselves most handsomely from the tax revenue. They don't actually have to work
to do anything the taxpayers want. Oh no, nothing so sordid as that. They get paid regardless.
But that's not necessarily the real issue here. The above pales into insignificance compared to what they have just now done.
No. What has got us so all-riled-up about it at the cycling club is not just the above (which admittedly is bad enough as it is), but the fact that the BBC have compounded it multifold by taking their vile fakery and propaganda into the domain of British cycling.
sacred?This time, they have gone too far.
It is quite unacceptable. There should now properly be a Royal Commission of Enquiry on the matter.