BBC in censorship row after the word 'girl' is cut from documentary
Mark Beaumont's comment, “I am not sure I can live that down - being beaten by a 19-year-old girl,” is deemed potentially offensive by BBC bosses
THE BBC has been caught up in another censorship row after the broadcaster cut the word “girl” from a programme about the Commonwealth Games over fears it could cause offence.
Mark Beaumont, the presenter, was being filmed grappling with a judo champion, and after he was sent crashing to the floor he said: “I am not sure I can live that down - being beaten by a 19-year-old girl.”
When the half-hour episode of The Queen's Baton Relay was originally aired in April on the BBC News channel, the 31-year-old’s remark was broadcast in full.
However, the word “girl” was edited out of a repeat of the programme, leading the Corporation facing claims it had been overly politically correct and sanctimonious.
The decision by BBC bosses to cut the line also left Mr Beaumont baffled.
When asked on Twitter why it was removed he replied: “Not sure - I just saw that myself and was wondering the same thing.”
He then posted to his 24,000 followers: “Great to hear you enjoyed the coverage. Thanks. Maybe the editor though it was sexist - which it wasn't. I'm not worried about it.”
And the teenage judo star herself, Cynthia Rahming, shrugged off the charge of sexism, telling the Mail on Sunday: “I wasn't offended - I didn't find it sexist.”
Kathy Lette, the 55-year-old novelist, told the newspaper: “If the athlete didn't find it upsetting why should the BBC mount their politically correct high horse and gallop off into the sanctimonious sunset?”
However, Mariella Frostrup, 51, backed the BBC's decision.
“’Girls’ to me is a fantastic word because I think, ‘Girls...full of potential,’ she said.
“But it has been used as a dismissive term as well. So I can imagine why it would be controversial. The athlete may not have been offended but the BBC has to think of the sensibilities of everybody watching.”
The Queen's Baton Relay follows the progress of the baton as it tours Commonwealth countries ahead of the Games in Glasgow in July.
A BBC spokeswoman said the unedited version of the documentary was broadcast soon after being filmed because the baton's tour was treated as a news event.
She added: “They had more time to edit it the second time. Mark didn't mean to cause offence. But the word 'girl' was taken out just in case it did.”
The latest row comes after the BBC was accused of double standards after David Lowe, a radio DJ, was asked to resign after unwittingly playing a version of “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” which contained a racist word, while Jeremy Clarkson did not lose his job after he appeared to say the N-word while filming for Top Gear.
By James Edgar, Telegraph.co.uk