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United Kingdom: Play about honour killings censored by BBC

6 February 2013

The BBC has been accused of an “extraordinary” act of censorship after it cut a line from a controversial playwright’s drama on BBC Radio 4.

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti, whose 2004 play Behzti sparked riots and death threats and was cancelled by a Birmingham theatre over concerns about public safety, was commissioned by Radio 4 to write an episode of drama series Stone.

Bhatti’s episode, called ‘Heart of Darkness’, features an investigation into the murder of a 16-year-old Asian girl, who it emerges is the victim of an “honour killing”. DCI Stone, who is voiced by Hugo Speer, is told to treat the case “sensitively”.

At an Index on Censorship conference on artistic freedom of expression in the UK, Bhatti said she was told a week before the recording that the script was being altered at the request of the BBC’s compliance department.

Radio 4 said a line was taken out because it could “potentially misrepresent” the attitude of the majority of British Muslims to honour killing.


The Guardian – 30 January 2013:
BBC accused of ‘extraordinary’ censorship over Radio 4 play Stone
Corporation in firing line after it cut dialogue from drama written by controversial playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. By John Plunkett


The Independent – 29 January 2013:
Behzti playwright accuses BBC of ‘extraordinary’ censorship of ‘honour killings’ episode
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.

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