Our Finest Hours: BBC under fire for ‘jingoistic’ programme

VETERAN and former Veterans Minister Keith Brown has said the BBC should be “embarrassed” over a new programme comparing the coronavirus crisis to the Second World War.

Our Finest Hours, first broadcast yesterday, features archive footage of Second World War efforts intercut with clips of the Prime Minister discussing the pandemic.

And despite presenter Sophie Raworth’s comments of efforts to fight coronavirus “across the UK”, the programme primarily featured stories of community resilience from England, with footage displayed over a Union Jack background.

READ MORE: Ruth Wishart: This VE Day jamboree is wholly inappropriate

SNP depute Brown accused the episode of being “politically loaded”.

At the beginning of the programme, the first in a new series, Raworth tells viewers: “Today how the outbreak of Covid-19 has revived our nation’s war time spirit.

“And once again we can be proud to be British.”

Throughout the programme archive footage of Second World War efforts like rationing, gas mask guidance and evacuations are shown and then are immediately followed by comparisons to the current UK Government’s approach to the coronavirus outbreak.

In one clip, Raworth says: “Just as in World War Two the Government has had no choice but to take tough action. Huge parts of Britain have been told to cut down and cease trading,” followed by a clip of Boris Johnson announcing closures. In another, Second World War factory workers are shown producing equipment for the war effort. Raworth says: “As in World War Two, it’s vital to keep essential services going to protect workers and to try to keep the country afloat financially.” This is followed by Clip of Johnson: saying: “We must act like any wartime government and do whatever it takes to support our economy.”

Brown (above) told The National: “This programme could have reached for the spirit of WW2 without pandering to exceptionalist British nationalism.

“Politically loaded stuff that tries to make a hero out of Boris Johnson is just desperate. It is out of touch and won’t go down well with audiences in Scotland.

“The BBC should be embarrassed at this jingoistic journalism – we should expect more from public service broadcasting.”

READ MORE: A silence to show respect to the dead is how I will mark VE Day

The BBC has been approached for comment.

The programme comes ahead of the 75th anniversary of VE Day this week. To mark the event on Friday, the BBC will broadcast a special address from the Queen at 9pm as this was the exact time her father addressed Britain 75 years ago.

Raworth will also present an evening event culminating in the nation singing We’ll Meet Again, while a Churchill speech will be shown in the afternoon.

Local BBC radio is asking the nation to decorate their front windows with bunting to mark the anniversary.   

A BBC spokesperson said: “Our Finest Hours reveals how the UK has responded in times of crisis, with footage from all nations included across its five episodes.

“The Prime Minister’s initial address was watched by 18m people in the UK on the BBC and with lockdown affecting every nation it is entirely reasonable it would be included in this programme.”

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