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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 08:26 AM

BBC criticised for using archive footage of Churchill laying wreath instead of Boris Johnson

The BBC is facing further criticism today over suspicions that it inserted footage of Winston Churchill laying a wreath on the Cenotaph, instead of scruffy-looking prime minister Boris Johnson.
One viewer, Simon Williams, told us, “I was just sitting on my couch watching the Remembrance Ceremony yesterday, eating Pringles and scratching my balls, when suddenly something didn’t seem quite right.
“I first suspected the BBC was up to something when the picture changed from 1080HD colour to grainy black and white footage, just as Boris Johnson was about to approach the Cenotaph with his wreath.”
“Although the biggest giveaway was that the person laying the wreath did so properly, and didn’t just chuck it on the floor upside down before walking off.”


That's from NewsThump, but the satire is barely stranger than reality, which on a relatively small scale resembles an outtake from 1984.

Mike Galsworthy

Apparently this is the wreath laying video shown on @BBCBreakfast this morning.

It starts with 2019 line-up, but then cuts to a smarter Johnson from a previous year laying a green wreath.

Compare with “scruffy” Johnson & red wreath 2019.

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

If you want to see the actual video from yesterday- this is what you need (video embedded in article):https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/remembrance-sunday-boris-johnson-pictured-20853195

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

I’ve now had it confirmed from different sources with evidence, with no-one providing evidence to the contrary.

So @BBCBreakfast really did use old footage (2016 it would seem) to replace scruffy wreath misplacing Johnson with a smarter-looking clip of Johnson.

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

So here is the video BBC were using yesterday, when Johnson had a red wreath, looked scruffy and placed the wreath upside-down:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

And here is the fottage used on BBC Breakfast this morning (2016?) where Johnson has smarter haircut & posture and more dramatic green wreath:

[Twitter video]

Mike Galsworthy @mikegalsworthy

In that last clip, listen to the audio (talking about Lib Dems’ “skills wallet” just announced- Google it) to confirm that it is BBC iPlayer footage from this morning.

So... this kind of sprucing up of the leader’s image is something worthy of

...a banana republic. 🍌

(Threadreader version here: https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1193820157241708544.html )

Any of our American friends reading this may not know that criticism of the conduct and/or dress of certain party leaders during the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph is an age-old British tradition.

On this occasion, Jeremy Corbyn - criticized in the past for looking "scruffy" (shades of Michael Foot's "donkey jacket" of years gone by) and insufficiently respectful - was well dressed, the only muted criticism being that his bowing of his head as he placed the wreath was insufficiently deep (if he'd thrown himself prostrate, it probably wouldn't have been enough for some).

Johnson looked scruffy and dishevelled (contrasting with the slightly less dragged-through-a-bush-backward look he's been sporting more recently), awkwardly stepped out of line at the wrong cue, and juggled his wreath so it was upside down when he placed it on the memorial.

Would I normally give a stuff about any of this? Nope. I find the whole annual "Poppy Wars" and nitpicking about the Cenotaph ceremony utterly disrespectful to those they're supposed to be commemorating, and there are far more important current issues to get wound up about.

But selective doctoring of footage like this by the state broadcaster in the age of constant allegations of "fake news", and particularly in the run-up to a crunch general election, is disturbing, not least because the BBC's defence of how it happened isn't convincing:

BBC apologises for using wrong Remembrance Day clip

The BBC has apologised for mistakenly running an out-of-date clip of Boris Johnson laying a wreath of poppies.

It said a production error led to BBC Breakfast showing images purporting to be the prime minister attending a Remembrance Day service on Sunday, when in fact the clip was from 2016.

"This was a production mistake and we apologise for the error," the corporation said in a statement.


That's quite some "production error". Are we to believe an editor "accidentally" found an archive clip and inadvertently broadcast it instead of current footage? How and why?

On one hand, this is just another storm in a teacup among so many. On the other, it calls into question the BBC's editorial impartiality at a time when it's needed most.

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