A leading playwright has accused the BBC of an “extraordinary” act of censorship after the corporation told her to cut key lines from a drama about “honour killings” which will be broadcast by Radio 4 this week.
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, whose controversial play Behzti was pulled from a Birmingham theatre in 2004 following protests from the Sikh community, wrote an episode for Radio 4’s DCI Stone series, which will be broadcast in the Afternoon Drama slot.
Bhatti’s episode, called Heart Of Darkness and due to air on Friday, tells the story of an investigation into the killing of a 16 year-old Asian girl, whose dumped body is found after being stabbed to death.
When it emerges that the girl was a victim of an “honour killing”, DCI Stone is told by his bosses is to treat the case “sensitively” because of her Muslim heritage.
“A week before recording I got an email from the producer saying the BBC compliance department had asked them to take lines out,” Bhatti told the Index On Censorship conference on artistic freedom of expression in the UK, held at the South Bank.
“At the end, a character says: ‘There is so much pressure in our community, to look right and to behave right.’ The compliance department came back and said ‘we don’t want to suggest the entire Muslim community condones honour killings.’
“It’s an extraordinary and awful situation. They said the lines were offensive but they absolutely were not. We live in a fear-ridden culture.
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