Back to school

The BBC has had to tell some of its people they can’t do any more filming unless/until they can show they’ve been to Don’t Fake Your Footage school. How embarrassing.

Staff at the BBC’s flagship Natural History Unit will be banned from programme-making until they have been sent on a tough new anti-fakery course, after two of the division’s shows were found to have contained serious breaches of the corporation’s editorial guidelines.

The editorial guidelines that go “First, fake no footage.”

The BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s governing body, ruled yesterday that Patagonia: Earth’s Secret Paradise, a BBC Two series shown last year, misled viewers by passing off composite footage of different volcanic eruptions as a single event.

Well…if it’s composite footage and they didn’t say that, then yes, they misled viewers. If I see footage of an eruption, I assume it’s one eruption.

Another natural history programme, Human Planet: Deserts – Life in the Furnace, which aired in 2011, included scenes in which a wolf was shown being hunted by Mongolian camel herdsmen. It later emerged that the animal was semi-domesticated, and that the footage had been faked.

Obviates the need for all that tedious waiting for the camel herders to find an actual wolf.

Both errors were described by the Trust as having constituted a “serious breach” of the BBC’s accuracy rules, and are the latest in a series of fakery scandals to have hit the NHU. In 2011 it emerged that scenes in Frozen Planet, voiced by Sir David Attenborough, which showed the birth of polar bear cubs, had actually been filmed in a Dutch wildlife centre.

You know, I think there’s an argument that that’s the more humane way to get that particular kind of footage. It should probably be permissible and fine for tv shows to substitute humane alternatives for some shots as long as you say that’s what you’re doing.