Controversial subjects

In this CoP Show podcast Our War executive producer Colin Barr, Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial producer Dan Murdoch and BBC programme lawyer Clare Hoban join Simon Ford to talk about how to put together a television programme that tackles controversial subjects.

Many programmes are controversial but what about the programmes that deal with controversial subjects from the outset, programmes that, say, depict illegal acts, death or war? When making these programmes it’s about taking risks, asking questions many are afraid to ask, and convincing a broadcaster - not to mention the lawyers - that it's all for the greater good. 

"When making these programmes it’s about taking risks, asking questions many are afraid to ask…" – Colin Barr

Colin, Dan, Clare and Simon discuss the differences between simply being controversial and the editorial and legal responsibilities of programme makers covering a controversial subject. They share their insights on working with outside bodies like the Ministry of Defence and scientific research councils, working with contributors, and the difficulties that social media and unedited online footage may represent.

Colin Barr is the executive producer of the BAFTA award winning BBC Three series Our War, the story of the war in Afghanistan using footage that was shot by the soldiers themselves. His previous credits include Space Dive, My Murder, Maxwell and 10 Days to War

Dan Murdoch is a freelance producer who set up and produced Channel 4's Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial, a programme following volunteers taking MDMA, the pure form of ecstasy, as part of a scientific study with a live studio debate. He was producer/director of Transsexual Teen Beauty Queen for BBC Three and has worked on Jamie's Dream School, Conspiracy Road Trip, The Secret Tourist, Watchdog and Rogue Traders.

Clare Hoban is a duty lawyer for the BBC, specialising in defamation, privacy and contempt law. She advises on BBC radio, television and internet content including drama, comedy, current affairs and news reporting.