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article imageBBC docudrama on 2011 London riots banned from the air

By Anne Sewell     Jul 19, 2012 in World
London - No one can actually tell you why it was banned, but the BBC's docudrama, which recreates witness and police statements during the 2011 London riots, cannot be aired.
The two-part docudrama was created using actors portraying witnesses to the riots, but stating exactly what the original witnesses said at the time. It also details police statements made during the London riots in 2011.
Both episodes have been banned from being broadcast by a court ruling, which the BBC lawyers now plan to appeal.
The two part dramatized film, featuring actors portraying anonymous rioters sharing their experiences during the riots, was due for broadcast on Monday evening, but was banned by a court order hours before hitting the airwaves
The script was written by award-winning playright, Alecky Blythe and is based on interviews with 270 people which were conducted by the London School of Economics and the Guardian, as part of a study into the massive public disorder.
Part one "The Riots: In Their Own Words", focuses on the rioters. Part two shares the impressions of the police officers who were on duty during the riots.
The Guardian, on reporting the ban, says that for legal reasons it cannot name the judge who made the controversial ruling, or the court in which is was done.
While little detail has been disclosed about the ruling itself, the Guardian cites it as saying, "It is ordered that the BBC programme 'The Riots: In their Own Words' due for broadcast on BBC 2 tonight is not broadcast by any media by any means until further order."
Apparently the BBC also had to remove a clip promoting the film from its website, which the BBC did, in line with the ruling.
The clip, which was previously available on a blog posted on Friday of last week, apparently featured a BBC producer saying that the "important and illuminating" interviews in the drama would provide insight into "why and how the riots had happened".
The film was part of the company’s package prepared for the coverage of the one year anniversary of the August 2011 riots in Britain.
What started as peaceful protest in Tottenham against the shooting of Mark Duggan, erupted into five nights of violence, looting and a subsequent police crackdown. Five people were killed and more than 2,500 shops and businesses damaged. Over a thousand people received jail sentences for their part in the riots.
Some are citing this ban as censorship. According to Kirsty Hughes, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: "This is a disturbing move. The Reading the Riots project gives a valuable insight into the events of last summer in England. As we approach the anniversary of the riots, it is important that broadcasts and discussion about the events are allowed to take place. Censoring television programmes is not in any way helpful to our understanding of the important issues and factors underlying the disturbances."
The BBC said in a statement on Monday: "A court order has been made that has prevented the BBC from broadcasting the programme The Riots: In their own Words tonight. We will put it out at a later date."
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