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Wrong decision

Helen Boaden | 20:17 UK time, Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Sometimes bad mistakes happen on the worst possible day. And that's exactly what happened this afternoon.

I saw it myself: I was watching coverage of the absolutely riveting final PMQs (you can watch it in full here, or download highlights here) with Tony Blair on The Daily Politics when it suddenly cut away in the middle of his valedictory statement to a couple of trails and the tennis.

As a consequence, we only learned later that we had missed Mr Blair talking about his fear of the House of Commons, and a unique moment when both sides of the House gave him a standing ovation. A lot of you were taken aback and upset by the switch - and certainly Andrew Neil and the production team were deeply disappointed not to share this with you after the care and passion they put into the programme on such a special day.

After looking into this, I can at least reassure you that this was cock up rather than conspiracy. A wrong scheduling decision was taken for which the BBC can only apologise. Believe me, no one involved would have wanted you to miss any part of this important event. Thankfully, News 24 was also covering PMQs live so we hope viewers were able to switch there.


  • 1.
  • At 08:40 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

The people responsible for this abysmal decision should be fired.

Maybe Ms Boaden, as the person with whom the 'buck stops' you would care to walk the plank and show an example?

Even News 24 cutaway to some absurd 'Brown Handover' graphic followed by a load of waffling from Huw Edwards before Blair had even left the chamber.

Did it not even cross your mind that on a day like today things might over-run a little bit ? Ah, never mind, I hear you cry - we will get it right next time..

Only another ten years to wait then.

Absolutely dire. I can just imagine the language Mr Neil was using.

  • 2.
  • At 08:46 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • David Smith wrote:

Yes, an almighty cock-up, not made any better by News 24 itself switching to a BBC News Special a few seconds after the standing ovation began.

I had to switch channels for a second time in about a minute, this time to BBC Parliament, to see the end of the ovation and what came next: the Speaker rather bemusedly announcing a Ten Minute Rule bill.

  • 3.
  • At 08:56 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Gruffudd Glyn wrote:

Well News 24 is an option for those of us who have digital but lots of people don't and missed this historic moment.

I can't believe that anybody in the BBC thought for a split second that this was a good decision - the fact that they did and that this was allowed to happen for the sake of a couple of trailers and Sue Barker talking about tennis that wasn't due to start until 1pm is shameful for the BBC.

  • 4.
  • At 09:12 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • MB wrote:

Surely you should have known Blair was going to receive a standing ovation... I couldn't believe it when you cut away... It seems the BBC's more interested in the flipping tennis...

  • 5.
  • At 09:24 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

well you really messed up there guys. to think we pay you good money. and now on top of all this gorden buffalo brown and his clunking hoof is in office.
apologies not accepted

I imagine the new PM won't last that long so you'll get another chance to show another again soon ;)

  • 7.
  • At 10:03 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • r.muggeridge wrote:

Yes, of course it was 'cock-up' not 'conspiracy' at the BBC that prevented it showing the retiring Prime Minister's final moments in the House of Commons after 10 years!
Afterall, the BBC has not been anti-Blair since the Hutton Report, has it?
The BBC has not been running for 3 days now on its Have Your Say web-page a topic with 1 pro-Blair to every 39 anti-Blair Comments Published, has it?
The BBC is always cutting into Andrew Neill's programmes with "important" stuff about Sport, isn't it?
The BBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation, the flagship of British tv/radio journalism, the most well known media organisation in the world with "more Reporters around the globe than any other network" (except it seems at an historic Parliament Question Time), & the organisation that only last week discussed an Internal Report about its need for "Impartiality" etc.
Cock-up? Conspiracy? I fear it is much more mundane than that: A pure & simple slight to the man who led this nation for a decade & in that time, sin of sins, did not give the BBC an inch of regard!

  • 8.
  • At 10:33 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Dan G wrote:

I was watching PMQ live and was simply stunned when they cut away just as Blair said "and finally I'd like to say..."

I love the idea that you (Boaden) think a mild apology is sufficient to explain away a monumental cock-up.

BBC news is generally appalling and this only proves it - why don't you do the decent thing and resign?

  • 9.
  • At 11:02 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

I don't trust BBC for anything anymore.
Whether it is about UK politics, East Timor, Middle East or Christmas celebration.

I think the best description of BBC culture is: "I see biased people. They are everywhere, and they don't even know they are biased..."

  • 10.
  • At 11:03 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • MOONY wrote:


  • 11.
  • At 11:22 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • Chris Rowe wrote:

It's not just this incident, Scheduling errors are occurring across the BBC's networks. This was simply not good enough. I'd like a fuller explanation of the thought processes behind this. The BBC should have abandoned 'The Daily Politics' and run the whole thing on BBC ONE from the start. This would have left Wimbledon to BBC TWO. (Incidentally Network Switches for Wimbledon are as bad as Royal Ascot last week, Why doesn't the second channel start before the first closes anymore?)

Oh come off it; the BBC gave plenty of coverage to the standing ovation in the news special itself; as well as in the News, which was quite assuredly watched by a lot more people than the Daily Politics show.

It was surprised when it happened, and it only occured to me to change to BBC Parliament once the News Special started and Huw was going on about something else. Alas, I was too late by then.

I felt sorry for him though: didn't he stand there at 1230 for the News Special, and was still there when I glimpsed the 10 o clock news not long ago?

  • 13.
  • At 11:30 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • ingrid risi wrote:

absolutely unforgiveable.the greatest prime minister insulted inthis way.

  • 14.
  • At 11:59 PM on 27 Jun 2007,
  • James wrote:

I was appalled at the decision. I am currently in a house without access to freeview or any other digital service, and by the time I'd fired up the computer and live stream it was too late.

Will an apology be broadcast?

  • 15.
  • At 12:26 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • DD Bull wrote:

This is the latest in a developing trend of "cock-up not conspiracy" events at the BBC. Recently there was an online request for coalition troop movements in Iraq. Something is seriously rotten at the BBC if its employees cannot recognise that Tony Blair's final PMQs deserve full coverage, or that British army manoeuvres in a war zone demand secrecy. It's high time someone at the BBC got a grip.

  • 16.
  • At 01:09 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • chris g wrote:

bbc beginning to lose it badly, i'm not an old crusty...I just don't want celebs giving opinions on politics, I don't want graphics every 5 seconds....I don't want BBC exclusives, just show us the news as it happens. Today was a disgrace, seriously someone should consider their position.

As for Andrew Neill, why do I get the feeling that the beeb don't see him as 'one of us'??? Why couldn't he just continue to anchor the bbc special? Is Hugh Edwards really that insightful?

  • 17.
  • At 01:13 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

Thanks for fessing up about the Daily Politics.

It was incredibly frustrating but - hopefully - the show's production team will have been just as annoyed as the viewers.

I realise there is always a balance to be struck between sticking with overrunning live events and not annoying viewers who are tuning in for scheduled programmes.

But hopefully there will be some lessons learned that can be used for future events.

  • 18.
  • At 01:28 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Colm wrote:

A bit more of an explanation that that offered in the apology is required.

  • 19.
  • At 02:02 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Fred wrote:

Mrs Boaden is correct to apologise, this decision undermines the BBC's politics show and Andrew Neil who they are lucky to have in a big way. I truly believe that someone should resign, or that VERY serious lessons should be learnt. This is not the first time that BBC terrestrial politics viewers have been let down. Please sort it out, it only needs a touch of common sense!

  • 20.
  • At 02:08 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John wrote:

with four channels now you would have thought the BBC would not mess up in such a big way. Disgraceful.

  • 21.
  • At 04:40 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Douglas McLellan wrote:

This is why for these types of events Sky News is better. It at least has looked in the dictionary and found the meaning of flexibility. BBC News 24 and other output, with the possible exception of 5 Live have no concept of flexibility. BBC Mantra - The weather will be at 28 at 58 mins no matter what!
What comes first - the scheduling or the news? I bet if it was news about Panorama or Fileon4 then the schedules would be changed - nothing beats BBC Current Affairs for important news!

  • 22.
  • At 06:18 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Dhiren wrote:

Eh, BBC America airs BBC World Coverage every morning but they kept breaking in with Commercials half the time so North American Viewers also missed out at various points

  • 23.
  • At 07:14 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • merle wrote:

Re; Wroong Decision. Sometimes bad mistakes happen on the worst possible day. And that's exactly what happened on the afternoon of 9/11/2001

I saw it myself: I was watching coverage of Jane Standley reporting the absolutely riveting collapse of a third World Trade Centre (though there'd only been two hijacked planes)when it suddenly cut away in the middle of her feed, made all the more extraordinary in that we saw WTC7 looming intact over her shoulder.

As a consequence, we only learned later, to our confusion, that the bulding had in fact not yet fallen and that we missed that unique moment when Standley woke up to her quite extraordinary clairvoyant prescience. A lot of us were taken aback and upset by this report - but certainly you and the team have never been able to fully explain this cock-up with us, even after the care and passion you usually put into coverage on such a special day.

  • 24.
  • At 08:12 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • David wrote:

I don't often watch daytime TV, but wanted to see this unique occasion and was appalled when the programme cut away. It was 10 pm before I could watch again, and then we only saw the last few words and the applause, and none of the context of the previous 30 mins.

I've also complained separately about the dreadful content on the 10pm news last night. Speculation about the cabinet, not fact; one line vox pop opinions and verdicts on Brown and Blair; and a few cartoons. Soft magazine items maybe, but not for the 10pm news. Cut those, and you could have shown more PMQ, and then moved straight onto the floods. It's not as if there was a shortage of real news last night.

  • 25.
  • At 08:27 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • stevo wrote:

Kind of ironic, though, isn't it, that a politician who lived by the soundbite pretty much died by the fade-out? Ah well - all it proves is that the Beeb can't really pretend to be taken seriously as a "news" organization anymore. they've long since given up the "live" news mantle to Sky, with all of the broader implications that go along with that.

  • 26.
  • At 08:33 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Ken Smart wrote:

I appreciate the comments of Helen Boaden, but unfortunately she makes no attempt to explain the thinking behind this ridiculous action - let alone advise us who was actually responsible. I'm aware that BBC News broadcasts have lost all semblance of gravitas lately, but this really did take my breath away. I didn't switch over to the News Channel - I switched off while muttering under my breath. I accept that we have to retain a sense of perspective, but nevertheless this is just another example of how the BBC can no longer be taken seriously when it comes to News coverage. I still object to paying a licence fee to sponsor this sub-standard output.

  • 27.
  • At 08:52 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • JG wrote:

A direct question to Helen Boaden, do you not think this is a resigning matter?

One of the most historic parliamentary moments in decades, yet the BBC seems to think a few adverts and some tennis waffle (not even the start of a match) are more important. You say it was a cock-up not a conspiracy, but what does this say about the decision making skills of the legion of schedulers and editors this kind of decision has to go through, did NONE of them realise what they were doing? I find that hard to believe. It would seem to me that the BBC institutional position was to deliberately slight Mr Blair to get some sort of 'revenge' for Hutton. So not really cock-up or conspiracy, more incompetence or bias.

Further, do you really think that a few lines on the editors blog is a sufficient response to this dreadful decision. What other internal measures are the BBC putting in place to (ha ha) try and prevent this happening again? Although, to be honest, I am not really sure why I even ask these questions here, as these blogs have the interactivity of a house brick.

  • 28.
  • At 09:03 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Alistair wrote:

Sorry, but really that explanation is not nearly sufficient for such a massive error (if indeed it really was an error).

Someone must have made the decision that cutting to yet another BBC advert – and Sue Barker wittering on – was more important than one of the most extrodinary Parliamentary moments we've ever seen (or not seen, thanks to the BBC) - how could they possibly been allowed to make that decision, given everyone at the BBC knew about the importance of the day's events??? It would have only taken about 5 more minutes to see it through.

Clearly there was some failure on the part of your editorial / scheduling team at some point along the line - I think to pass it off as just a 'cock up' is pretty insulting to the licence fee payers you are supposed to be serving. A proper apology would be appreciated I think!

  • 29.
  • At 09:14 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Simon Ward wrote:

You have a budget of *billions* and I presume your scheduling isn't done on the fly. How could this not be forseen? This is why the BBC should be privatised. You don't see Sky or ITV doing this.

  • 30.
  • At 09:31 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Stephen Etheridge wrote:

I think the BBC puts way too much emphasis on Wimbledon. I, for one, hate this fortnight and forget any idea of seeing the programmes I am interested in when they are scheduled. As far as I recall, Wimbledon is Sport and as such has to rank below News in any sensible environment. Adverts for sport to come up have to rank very low on any sensible scale.

  • 31.
  • At 09:36 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Sandra McGregor wrote:

I thought the incident made the BBC look amateurish.
The "Daily Politics" had a distinguished panel of guests (Lord Hattersley, Iain Duncan Smith, Charles Kennedy) and the look of astonishment on their faces as BBC2 cut away said it all. I gather that Iain Duncan Smith refered to the matter later on Sky News.
It wasn't as though the BBC didn't have prior notice that Tony Blair was resigning on 27 June. As for the excuse that PMQ overrun, that is feeble. Anyone who watches PMQs regularly will know that PMQs regularly overruns.
I think the BBC has lost the plot.

I was as annoyed at the lame editing, as I was at the streaming BBC News 24 channel getting soo flaky I got thrown off and couldn't reconnect to it at the most important time! I'd love to hear you say "use a TV!" but due to the recent flooding, it was still disconnected and in an upstairs bedroom.

Since I'm already limited to just one choice (realmedia), could you work harder for the next national media event, please?

  • 33.
  • At 09:54 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Steven Batten wrote:

I felt cheated out of a piece of history. I still remember Thatcher's last PM Question Time; the only time I had respect for her greatness.

There was such a build up, such as the sincere and reciprocal acknowledgements between Blair and Ian Paisley. I knew I was watching something special.

I was so fraustrated by the breaking off of the transmission. I could not just switch over as I now live in Holland. I do not have the options other than BBC 1 and 2.

I felt cheated, but I appreciate the apology from the editor. People are always making mistakes. Absurd that the someone demands her sacking. Maybe he should think about falling on his sword the next time he makes a mistake at work. He's a typical example of a compulsive moaner so common in today's society, but that's another subject...

  • 34.
  • At 09:56 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Sorry, but I feel I have to put in my two penn'orth again. I am slightly concerned to read in the comments that people's suggestions for getting round the problem is to be 'more like Sky'.

Sorry, folks, but this is absolutely the last thing the BBC needs. Sensationalism and rubbish journalism will probably occur by itself as the gradual erosion of news values continues. And comments like 'You don't see..ITV doing this.' avoid mentioning how little news ITV carries at all these days.

Others seemed to think that more money should be thrown at the problem - Hmm.. I don't see any evidence for lack of resources judging by the fact that George Alagiah, Jon Sopel, Emily Maitlis, Huw Edwards and a cohort of others were present. Do people think that giving Ms Maitlis two brolly carriers would help ? Let's be fair, most were doing a very good job, especially Jon Sopel, who, if he did a 'double-shift' in exchange for some overtime could put most of the junior staff out of a job.

But having calmed down a bit, and read Boris Johnson's wonderful article in today's Telegraph, I am beginning to wonder whether the BBC, much criticised for having lefty sympathies, don't have a few ideas on the wavelength of old Bozza, and were trying to spare us from the worst excesses of over-the-top choreographed sycophancy..

  • 35.
  • At 10:21 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Graham Moorcroft wrote:

“a [sic] unique moment when both sides of the House gave him a standing ovation”

It wasn’t unique: Lloyd George received a standing ovation when he announced the end of the First World War. (Unless you don’t know what unique means.)

Not conspiracy, not cock-up, just massive incompetence from people promoted way beyond their ability.

  • 36.
  • At 10:58 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Robert Mckay wrote:

Good god, people want folk to resign over absolutely anything these days.

  • 37.
  • At 11:17 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • a pedant's pedant wrote:

Graham Moorcroft (#35)

I assume you think you are ever so clever, inserting your [sic] in the quotation - unfortunately, you are mistaken. The pronunciation of 'unique' necessitates the use of 'a' rather than 'an'.

Think about the (correct) use of 'a' in the sentence 'a unilateral decision'.

Still, you are quite right insofar as this whiole debacle was indicative of incompetence rather than conspiracy...

  • 38.
  • At 11:24 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Rob F wrote:

It's OK, BBC - it's not like you could have known something special was going to happen yesterday.

Ohhh, hang on... you had 2 years warning, didn't you?

  • 39.
  • At 11:25 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Howard wrote:

Sorry, but this was a unique chance to be present at the making of news, to bring the news of the day to the people as it happened, and you messed it up shamefully. Someone in the BBC needs to take a long hard look at the people running the news, because if this is indicative of the general standards and priorities of the news department then I wonder if it can still be saved...

  • 40.
  • At 11:33 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Keith wrote:

I guess in a few years when the whole country goes digital they can just display a notice on screen to say "Prime Minister's Question Time continues on BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament now".

However as not everyone has access to digital at the moment I think it was a bad decision to cut away before the end. I think most could guess being the final PMQs by Tony Blair it was likely to be a significant one which many more than usual might be watching and potentially could overrun.

Whilst the tennis is also a live event it wouldn't have done much harm to delay it by 5 or 10 minutes. Even if they wished to display a notice on screen along the lines of "Tennis follows next on BBC2" for any viewers tuning in, as has been done for some events in the past.

Let's just hope mistakes are learnt.

  • 41.
  • At 11:34 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Iain Whiteley wrote:

I was very annoyed by this, The BBC news special on BBC One did not need to start until one o'clock and the Daily Politics should of also stayed on the air till 1pm. I didn't know that News24 was showing PMQs and switched to skynews instead. Please ensure that when this event happens again that this total cock-up wont happen!

  • 42.
  • At 11:38 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John Yarnall wrote:

I have never seen such a crass decision as to cut away from PMQs with only a minute or so to go. It is no comfort whatsoever to be reassured that this was a cock-up rather than a conspiracy. What we need to know is why the decision was taken, by whom, and whether he or she has been held to account. It is hard to see that anyone at the BBC could not have viewed Tony Blair's final departure as important, given that the lunchtime news itself was extended to include expensive and pointless helicopter shots of cars going to and from the House of Commons and Buckingham Palace. Nor is it satisfactory to tell us that we could have switched over to News 24. What is the Daily Politics for if not to feature PMQs?

  • 43.
  • At 11:40 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Ranil Jayawardena wrote:

Andrew Neil rightly announced an apology on The Daily Politics today, but what you wrote is of no substance whatsoever!

Surely you must have had a contingency in place if PMQs overran?! Surely you must have had some thought that it might well overrun on a day like yesterday?!

It is absolutely ridiculous to tell us that it is not a conspiracy! Oh! Great! So the next time things like this happens it'll be fine will it?!

I'm not a Labour supporter by any means, but the end of an era was prematurely ended yesterday for viewers without digital television - and we pay as much in Licence Fee as anyone else.

A total disgrace.

  • 44.
  • At 11:41 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Denise Venn wrote:

D'you call that an apology? It was a mealy-mouthed attempt to weasel out of your resposibilities, Ms Boaden. You are the news editor - it rests on your shoulders. Why not just say 'I'm sorry - I got it wrong'?

Appalling incompetence and behaviour from someone who really should have a handle on what's going on with BBC News programming.

  • 45.
  • At 11:45 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • James Manning wrote:

Also, Robin Cook's resignation speech in 2003 got a standing ovation.

Absolutely shocking decision though. The most historic political moment in this country for over a decade, and they end it early for some adverts and tennis chat. Surely a resignation is required.

  • 46.
  • At 11:45 AM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Thanks for the cock up, the only place this man should been seen again is behind bars.


  • 47.
  • At 12:15 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • robert wrote:

Is that really all we are going to get from Ms Boaden?

After all this was a "decision". It wasn't, as she said, really a cock-up. It was a conscious decision. Not some technical error. Someone actually made it happen.

If I'd been Andrew Neill I would have told Ms Boaden to make the announcement herself that something else (a trailer) was more important than staying on for another minute to hear the Prime Minister's last words in Parliament.

  • 48.
  • At 12:27 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • andrew stephenson wrote:

An apology, yes, but an explanation?
As viewers, with an interest in politics, we do understand some of the vagaries of the business of politics. But we expect the BBC to be competent in its reporting of events and in particular 'historic events'... you have just lost a lot of trust.
Your home page suggested that you would explain "why the Daily Politics lost the end of PMQs". You haven't. Helen Boaden says "a wrong scheduling decision was taken" ... well, we all know that, don't we? ... where's her/your promised explanation?

  • 49.
  • At 12:32 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John Walters wrote:

Setting aside the usual ludicrous anti-beeb propaganda and promotion of the dreadful drivel of sky and itv from swivel-eyed right-wing loons, I do still find this inadequate.

Are you saying it was a scheduling error for not scheduling the Daily Politics to run from 11-1 in the first place (which is true, and something I thought as soon as I saw the schedules), or are you saying it was a scheduling error for not allowing the Daily Politics to over-run having made the error in the first place ... as a first round tennis match was allowed to over-run by AGES just 2 nights earlier!

Someone made the decision not to let an over-run happen, just as someone made the decision 2 nights earlier to let the tennis over-run. If you were serious about this apology you would name that person (indeed it would be them making the apology) or at least name their position.

BBC schedulers do not take politics seriously nor the obligation the BBC has and rank it should be given - not many weeks ago I seem to remember a Wednesday Daily Politics (with PMQs) was completely dropped in favour of some fluff or other that I can't even remember. You need to make some fundamental changes to ensure that the people you employ as schedulers realise that the BBC's duty of political coverage is the first priority and not a moveable feast.

  • 50.
  • At 12:36 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Kenny wrote:

ironically whenever the tennis is on the bbc seem more than ready to underun / overrun, change the schedule at a drops notice, was it not apparent that PMQ's may have run over on the historic session it was yesterday. Would the same scheduling decisions have been made during general election coverage, a royal wedding? I doubt it. Yesterday's fragmented coverage could only be described as panic TV. As a rule I feel the bbc provides excellent political coverage and you have some amazing talents in people like Andrew Neil, David Dimbleby, Nick Robinson etc - would it have been so wrong to centralise the coverage from the channels into one place and draw on the commentary talent you already have, rather than forcing newsreaders to bumble through the day?

You dropped the ball on this one, badly... maybe tony blair isn't the only one getting a P45 this week.

  • 51.
  • At 12:44 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

I must correct the pompous nonsense by Simon Ward (message 29). What was on ITV at the time? Have a look, and you'll reconsider your silly praise of them. On flexibility, again, a daft remark. How often does the BBC get complaints BECAUSE of exercising flexibility (extended news bulletins).

It also amazes me how quickly Sky gets lauded. This organisation is under the same ownership as Fox News in the USA (an Australian born US citizen). Fox News has a reputation for impartiality matched by Robert Mugabe's excellent record on human rights.

Having said that, how our foremost broadcaster managed to make such an enormous cock-up is beyond belief. While I rejoice that the BBC remains a public (NOT private, thank God) corporation, I have to ask who was being catered for by this stupid decision. Even News 24 moved away from the Commons in rather indecent haste for potted histories of Blair and Brown. There may be some logic in saying you were catering for tennis fans on the analog channel (even if it was a cock-up). Anyone watching News 24 would not have been waiting for Wimbledon.

So who was being catered for by this decision?

  • 52.
  • At 12:47 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Robert Woodward wrote:

Surprised that you didn't split the screen in half and talk over the top of it. Getting very popular now to do this so you can cram in an extra advert and ruin the end of programmes.

  • 53.
  • At 01:03 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

I sent you an email at about 2am it is now 12:45pm. Why can I not see my comments ?
It is not enough that the BBC's idea of history is bogged down in political correctness but when you have a live feed to history you pull the plug !This so called apology by Helen Boaden is a joke. "Oooops we made a cock-up" WHO DID IT ? What were they thinking ? How much do WE pay them ?
If these are the comments you did show I would like to see the comments you were embarrassed to show. Like mine. Please explain.

  • 54.
  • At 01:03 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • merle wrote:

Thanks for giving us an honest game of tennis, played fairly by the rules, over the mendacious Mr Blair.

  • 55.
  • At 01:12 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Douglas Mclellan wrote:

To #34 and #37 - Sky is better for this kind of thing. They have a clear idea of what is happening and build an epic amount of flexibility into their broadcasts. That is not to say the quality of their broadcasts is better. It clearly isnt and schedule to schedule the BBC News 24 is far better than Sky News - its just that the BBC cant comprehend the idea that *their* schedule might not be the one with rest of the world is working to.

It's not all bad, the BBC got Cherie Blair's "I won't miss you" statement to the media first time, half an hour later Sky News realised what she's said, they'd been reporting it as "I'll miss you" !!

  • 57.
  • At 01:22 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • simon carroll wrote:

Maybe we should just put Mr Murdoch in charge as he would not stand such a mistake to happen. It is not only Mr Blair who should be leaving his job. How anyone will bother with the beeb again I am not sure. As for slimey politicians I am sure they will never stop reminding you of the gaff to sqirm out of questions. Well done, people blame Blair for people not taking politics seriously anymore well BBC take a bow you are the new champs.

Yes I'd hoped the show would have continued after for a bit to talk about the events, after all its not every day that happens!

I had already noticed that the events were being shown on BBC2, BBC News 24 and BBC Parliament - so I quickly switched to News 24.

Thank you for the apology,

however I can't imagine how anybody with even the slightest glimmer of intelligence could possible have been faced with the problem and made the decision they did.

There simply wasn't a decision to be made in any respect. There was a job to do - keep the live coverage of Tony Blair no matter what, and that task was utterly failed.

I'm looking forward to when the queen steps down to hand over power to Charles and it happens to be on the darts final day. I wonder what scheduling decision will be made then?

  • 60.
  • At 01:48 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Rockingham wrote:

I was watching BBC Parliament, and had no problems. Well Done BBC!

  • 61.
  • At 01:51 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Licence-fee serf wrote:

Another cock-up by the "uniquely funded" BBC. Fortunately I was watching the direct feed from the parliament website, then went downstairs and watched Sky over lunch, having read on the blogs about this disgraceful incident.

BBC News24 has been deleted from my freeview programme favourites. I'll keep BBC1 on there for Doctor Who.

  • 62.
  • At 02:53 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Nick de Sousa wrote:

Livid is the only word I can use to describe my mood yesterday after Andrew Neil reappeared on screen, looking as I felt!! Even the studio guests were incredulous.
Whomever made the decision to cut away from the then PM should be ashamed of this debacle and dismissed.
To have shown a pre-cut trailer which could have easily been left out of the show in favour of the final moments of the PM in the House and then to finish the show in order to broadcast tennis under threat due to rain, is frankly abhorrent.
Further, the fact that the standing ovation, which all viewers would have missed, but which was then repeatedly referred to in all the afternoon's interviews and by presenters and commentators, served only to rub salt into the wound.
The station controller should hang their head in shame.

  • 63.
  • At 03:05 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Ewan wrote:

This was indeed a monumental disaster, and this apology/explanation is totally inadequate. For something so amazingly crass we need real explanation, not just a weak mea culpa.

Someone made this decision, deliberately. They must have had some sort of reasoning - tell us what it was.

Furthermore, the nature of the response - a brief blog post with (so far) no sign of having read, much less engaged with the commenters - adds considerable insult to injury.

  • 64.
  • At 03:07 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • John CB wrote:

It is appalling that the BBC is capable of making a mistake like this. The reason is that the BBC is obsessed with junctions and trailers, much of it obviously automated, rather than focussing on content. Huw Edwards beginning the News Special describing PMQ rather than showing it was frankly unbelievable. I just cannot believe with the resources available to you you can be this incompetent.

  • 65.
  • At 03:46 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Paul wrote:


The amount of time missed at the end of PMQ was about the amount of time spent on trails, before the tennis even started. The tennis was a poor decision: the trails beforehand was spectacularly inept.

The sort of immaturity and inexperience that simply wouldn't be acceptable anywhere else.

Resignations, please.

  • 66.
  • At 04:02 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

OK, so I was upset too yesterday.

The old mottos are still true:

a) Never let them see you are hurt.

b) Never explain, never apologise.

The first's for the viewers, the second's for the BBC.

Seeing Andrew Neil's apology this morning sufficed for me. He had to show professionalism even if his managers competence slipped a bit.

  • 67.
  • At 04:23 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Kenneth wrote:

No wonder Andrew Neil was frustrated, he's probably the most knowledgable and engaging pundit or presenter of those regularly appearing on the BBC, but on the budget, election or change of PM he's dumped, I'm not surprised he was on Sky News for the recent elections.

  • 68.
  • At 04:45 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

If Tony Blair had made this sort of “mistake” you would have called it “spin”.
Why should we believe you?

  • 69.
  • At 04:55 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

There must be something wrong if the editor of a BBC politics programme needs to whitewash a serious error, but if this happens twice within just one month, then one wonders what on earth is going on ! On June 8th Newsnights editor acknowledged lots of complaints about Ms. Warks interview with Alex Salmond in which he was cut off in an extremely rude and dare I say it : unprofessional manner. There simply was no excuse for this.
This time Daily Politics wants us to believe it was just a misunderstanding ("wrong scheduling", so thats allright then!) that the P.M.s final moments in the Commons , incl. an unparalleled standing ovation were cut off in favour of ..Wimbledon .My 1O year old daughter summed it up by saying " Who do they think we are to believe this trash ? Kids ?" Seriously, doesnt the buck stop anywhere these days ?

  • 70.
  • At 06:00 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Adam wrote:

Oh come on guys, I think you're being a bit harsh on the Beeb here. I appreciate Helen's honesty in coming clean about the cock-up. Let's face it, could you imagine politicians saying "sorry everyone, we cocked up" in such a refreshingly honest matter?

Yes, it was a cock-up that shouldn't have happened, and I sincerely hope that lessons will have been learnt, but which of you criticising the Beeb for this can put your hand on your heart and say you've never cocked up anything in your job?

  • 71.
  • At 06:08 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

I'd like to know how much this was to do with programme play-out having been farmed out to a third party company? Does this make it more difficult to extended a programme?

At the same time we are told that some programmes can't be put on the iPlayer because third party companies hold rights?

My gut feeling is that staff are probably less well trained now in every respect and matters are compounded with departments and programmes run by outside companies?

None of this seems to be in the interests of the viewer?

On the otherhand I think we've forgotten all the regular technical breakdowns and cock-ups years ago when technology was less advanced.

It was a shock when the coverage was cut on BBC2, but my instinct was to switch to Sky News. However, after the event was over, I found BBC News 24's interviews more interesting.

Whilst this was a bad decision by the BBC, I don't think the editor should be hung, drawn and quartered. It reflects to some extent the differing styles of BBC and Sky. Sky News pick an important story, stick with it and cover it in depth. BBC news try to provide a broader coverage, covering a range of stories rather than focusing on one. Eg: if the BBC editor of this story were to be hung, drawn and quartered, it would get a 2-minute headline on BBC, but continuous coverage on Sky for several days.

Both styles have their advantages, and we are not all the same. Thankfully Freeview gives an increasing number of us consumers real choice.

I look forward to Itchy and Scratchy's view of events later this evening.

  • 73.
  • At 08:00 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • JG wrote:

Hello! BBC. knock Knock, anyone there? Or are we all just talking to ourselves?

Some very serious issues and questions have been raised here, yet it is hard to say if anyone at the BBC has even read them. Where is the famous interactivity the BBC is always going on about? Shall I just write my next comments on a piece of paper and chuck it in the bin? May as well.

Well, you should not worry. It's enough that we read about it. I mean, it is usually very boring to watch such stuff anyway. In fact, none of the people I know were watching it.

Thanks for the concern though.


  • 75.
  • At 10:10 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

its not on, people like us who give a damn and put finger to keyboard are serious about these issues, and would appreciate at least an official apology on screen. don't you think its right too? :(

  • 76.
  • At 10:11 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Bob Milton wrote:

I was one of those that sent a comment regarding the awful mess you made regarding the end of PMQ's yesterday. I am not interested in anyone being punished or anything.
When I sent my complaint I provided my email address.
It would have been polite (and easy) for you to have sent me an email of apology, instead I was directed to this website and found this link to an apology hidden at the bottom of a page.
Come on, you must try harder.
Didn't your parents teach you any manners?

  • 77.
  • At 10:49 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • G Barry wrote:

This showed a total lack of maturity and political gravity and perfectly demonstates what has happened at the dumbed down BBC. Every news story has to have a sound track and always the dreaded drum beat. Too many 20/30 somethings whose career depends of making every episode of Eastenders, a football game, test match, tennis game etc seem as if our lives would be empty if we did not tune into view, BBC should get real, get serious, stop treating the viewing public as ignorant idiots needing to be spoonfed emotion, and just start reporting news as it happens, momentoue events as they occur and not some pre-recorded self promoting drivel.

  • 78.
  • At 11:12 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • James Barton wrote:

Cutting away from Tony Blair in his final moments in the Commons shows that the BBC is more interested in itself than reporting what is going on.

To make amends, the BBC should place the whole of Tony Blairs final PM Q's as a broadcast on the Website.

  • 79.
  • At 11:44 PM on 28 Jun 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

Inanely biased editorial policies and terrible journalistic shortcoming aside, BBC consistantly demonstrates technical incompetence in the running of its radio and television stations. It routinely makes errors and blunders of a nature and in number which would be unacceptable in most college radio stations in the United States. Amateurs, just bungling rank amateurs. What do you expect from people who are in reality, civil servants with no fair competition to speak of? Mediocrity even when lavishly funded is the hallmark of socialist monopoly. The great British Blundercasting Corporation, hah.

  • 80.
  • At 01:58 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

I would like to add something to my note of the 28 June 2007.
There was a time when the explanation of “mistake” would have been accepted automatically and without qualification. Times have changed. There has been a barrage of comment and opinion about Tony Blair: most of it adverse and much of it under headings such as “The Rise & Fall of Tony Blair”. Is it unreasonable to conclude that a number of BBC journalists would go out of their way to do damage?

  • 81.
  • At 02:54 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

The interruption to the coverage was absolutely appalling. It should never have happened. On a wider issue, this demonstrates the sheer ludicrousness of inserting trails into every break between programmes, with absolutely no regard for timing, and to hell with anything else that might be happening. If nothing else, this latest cock-up must call the current BBC policy on trails into question. When did the need to advertise yet more reality tv or another dreary derivative programme gain priority over historic political events? In fact, when did the need arise to constantly bombard us with infuriating trails at all?

Whilst I understand the blog is supposed to be informal, that kind of apathetic, half-hearted apology is insulting to the viewers and to the people working hard to put the programme together. I expect more from the director of BBC News.

  • 82.
  • At 07:00 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

To be fair to Helen Boaden, I'm not sure that blame for the actions of Network Control (the Broomcupboard, back in the good old days) in taking the PMQ coverage off air in favour of trails and tennis can be laid at the doorstep of the director of the News department.

  • 83.
  • At 10:39 AM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Rockingham wrote:

Guys, you saw the footage on the news and repeated ad nauseum on every channel for the rest of the day. Someone blundered. Its embarrassing for the BBC, but its not a crime. Get over it.

Given that Mr Blair was an arch manipulator of the media, the whole thing is rather ironic, n'est pas?

  • 84.
  • At 12:43 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • tez wrote:

The B.B.C.might wish to change it's name to the British Cock-up not Conspiracy corporation, as it uses this excuse so much to explain it's manipulation of coverage on T.V. whether it is Tony Blairs' speech or the collapse of W.T.C. 7.
Bye the way, where have Jane Standley and Richard Porter gone?and can their disapearance be explained by cock-up or conspiracy?

  • 85.
  • At 01:27 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • towcestarian wrote:

Its not like this is the BBC's first "cock up" this week. A few sackings are required pour encourager les autres.

Biased, dumbed-down and incompetent - today's BBC.

  • 86.
  • At 02:00 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Howard Osborn wrote:

I was one of those who sent my comments in within minutes of this disgraceful incident. Surely these comments and those like them (and I am sure that there were many) should be added at the beginning of this blog? The fact that my original email was not even acknowledged is not surprising.

  • 87.
  • At 02:56 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Nick Mallory wrote:

You should resign.

  • 88.
  • At 03:26 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • JONE wrote:

Jane Standley is in a secret CIA interrogation cell in Dick Cheney's basement.

Richard Porter was abducted by a shape-shifting ailen, driving a white Fiat Panda

  • 89.
  • At 04:00 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • John James wrote:

It would be interesting to know the basis on which you're censoring the contributions to this blog. I submitted something which was valid criticism expressed in reasonable terms, yet you have seen fit not to publish it. By what right? You are public servants -- it's not for you to arbitrarily refuse a contribution. Of course, doing so could artificially reduce the amount of criticism you receive, but you couldn't possibly want to do that, could you?

  • 90.
  • At 04:23 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Dave Masu wrote:

A cock-up rather than a conspiracy; so it's incompetence rather than malfeasance. So that's alright then. More "lessons to be learnt". Doesn't anyone learn the relevant lessons BEFORE they are let loose on their jobs anymore?

Andrew Neill is a serious journalist, despite his choice of eye wear. He certainly deserves better than to work with these space cadets.

  • 91.
  • At 04:25 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • paulus wrote:

On June 8th the editor of Newsnight offered his apologies for cutting off Alex Salmond in an interview with Kirsty Wark in an extremely rude and unprofessional manner. This time Daily Politics wants us to believe it wss just a misunderstanding ("wrong scheduling", so..thats allright then?) that Blairs final historical moments, whatever one thinks of him, in the Commons were cut off, includ. the unparalleled standing ovation, because " Wimbledon was starting".. By the time I switched over, it was all finished ! As TV license payers surely "we" are entitled to expect a bit more than half-baked excuses.. Doesn't the buck stop anywhere these days ?

  • 92.
  • At 04:43 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Alistair wrote:

Okay, some people are going way overboard here – its hardly something the head of news should be resigning over!

But I think we are entitled to a proper apology, and a real explanation of how the mess happened, and what can be done to ensure this sort of thing doesn't happen again. So far there's been no explanation of why this decision was taken, and for what reason.

I doubt that this really was a deliberate slight to the Prime Minister, but given the anti-Blair line often adopted by BBC programming (while obviously not nearly as blatent as Channel 4 etc), its understandable that some people might see it that way. A full explanation would probably help to put their minds at ease.

  • 93.
  • At 04:58 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • gary stark wrote:

Helen Boarden's response is of course inadequate, especially as so many of us are unable to receive the digital service she suggested we switch to.

However my bigger problem is that I am unable to downlaod the highlights as suggested on your web site. I have a proper computer (ie an apple) and don't seem to have the necessary links.

So I still have beeen denied the opportunity to see the final moments of Mr Blair's departure.

Please advise as to how I can see these, please.

  • 94.
  • At 05:29 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Rod Gray wrote:

It's time there was a human instead of a computer deciding when a programme should end

In olden times, trailers were used to fill gaps between programmes when they ran short. A human would press abutton to run one

Now, a computer decides when to cut off a programme, often mid sentence, so that a trail can be shown. Then another. Now usually four

Who is paying for all this trash. We are

No wonder there is no money to make new programmes

And we are left with Keeping up appearances at peak times

How sad

  • 95.
  • At 06:00 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Cock-up, news manipulation, gratuitous personal opinions: let the complainants blow off steam in a blog: carry on as usual.

  • 96.
  • At 06:55 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Was this amateur day at the BBC?

Actually, that's wrong. Even someone who hadn't worked in TV would know that the PMQs could overrun a little and that viewers would want to hear some comment from the studio afterwards. It's equally obvious that some coordination with the next live program would be needed.

How could all these things escape the notice of so-called professionals?

I can't understand the process by which this decision was taken. Helen Boaden fails to describe it at all.

One of the most significant parliamentary occasions of the last ten years and you switch to tennis coverage of matches that aren't even about to start.

Your lack of explanation is pathetic.

  • 97.
  • At 07:46 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • J White wrote:

Although it was a mistake that the coverage was stopped, the BBC coverage overall of the departure of Tony Blair was impressive. Helen Boaden has apologised, but the levels of comments back about resignation lead to just one outcome, in future, why should senior products and editorial controllers apologise? Mistakes happen and overall, in the main, BBC political coverage remains very good and a substantative part of their news coverage.

  • 98.
  • At 08:41 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • steve weddle wrote:

Whilst I accept and understand Helen's explanation I do feel, due to the enormity of the error, that the BBC should launch a thorough investigation into the circumstances of this horrible mistake, and systems introduced to ensure nothing similar ever happens again. In my view, BBC Presentation have always had too much power and this needs to be curbed by forcing them to listen more meaningfully to the opinion of programme makers, ensuring more flexibility in the schedules when required.

  • 99.
  • At 09:37 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Robert Anderson wrote:

You do not address the main issue. The BBC thinks that it is more important than politics, the Government or Tony Blair. That's why the decision to cut away was made. This is an enormous conceit for a public service broadcaster. It is an inbuilt arrogance that typifies all of BBC broadcasting.

  • 100.
  • At 11:03 PM on 29 Jun 2007,
  • Peter Faulkner wrote:

It sounds like personal internal BBC politics to me!

I think somebody was working to rule to set somebody else up!

It can't be an innocent cock-up!

seems a bit unfair to call on a lady to resign because she came out and apologised. i'm not in the UK so I don't know, would an resignation have been demanded if there was no editor's blog?
anyway ms boaden you should, it's the best thing that happens to a lot of people and you'd get a lot of respect in the business :-)

  • 102.
  • At 08:22 AM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • richard vaughan wrote:

tony blair may not have been everyone's favourite but what happened on the daily politics was appalling, cock-up? bias? we think the latter-how about cutting off the non-elected queen sometime-greg dyke certainly left a few people with chips on their shoulder when he resigned-time for more to go

  • 103.
  • At 12:06 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • thomas wrote:

while its easy to say its cock up rather than conspiracy.

Could it be more of its only tony blair
so why bother with his last comments.
you wouldnt find it happening in a live football game or the wimbledon final.
so what if two programs are showing the same news item for a few minutes id rather have that then miss out.

I do watch the news coverage on the bbc sometimes but sky news has easily surpassed the bbc in quality imho.

i hope andrew neil gave the bbc news editor a few choice words when they went off air.

  • 104.
  • At 04:07 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

Since the war, and particularly the Hutton report, the BBC has been biased against Tony Blair. If a decision is unconsciously biased due to prejudice, is this a cock-up or a conspiracy? The BBC has lost a great deal of credibility over recent years due to actions like this.

  • 105.
  • At 04:47 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Dr A Murphy wrote:

Helen Boaden should be sacked .

She is responsible for the scheduling ,which should have revolved around the final day of the longest post war PM including PMQ.

Her anodyne comments are insulting and unbelievable. The anti Blair bais within the BBC (Post Hutton ) from Today to Newsnight is legendary.

I have never been a Labour supporter but Blairism or the Third Way has changed the face of British Politics and its Architect Mr Blair ,should have been accorded special BBC coverage for political/historical/achive purposes .

Even the Panorama programme on Blair's Legacy palled into political insignifiance compared with the structured analytical approach of Andrew Rawnsley on Channel 4.

An unworthy thought was that Ms Boaden has had too many freebie breakfasts with Gordon Brown .

  • 106.
  • At 05:35 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Gerald Broad wrote:

A sense of proportion has to be exercised. Here was a moment when history was being made and the BBC management failed in its mission totally and fundamentally. Unfortunately there are no acceptable excuses, so you, Ms Boaden, should make a suitable public apology and resign.

  • 107.
  • At 06:15 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Oscar Miller wrote:

Helen Boaden - this really is pathetic. An 'apology' is not your ONLY option (as you state). You can conduct a proper inquiry into what happened and heads can roll. Saying PMQs could be watched on News 24 only adds insult to injury. I couldn't watch it on News 24 and nor could many others. In addition I like to watch PMQs in the context of the always excellent Daily Politics. In fact I was expecting the programme to continue until 1pm as scheduled in the Radio Times. Why was the schedule changed from that printed in the RT? You have given no explanation for this. The dates of Wimbledon were known well in advance, and cannot be used as an excuse. The Daily Politics schedule was therefore already being mucked about even before the order to take Blair's final PMQs off air at it's climax. It was like cutting the final shot of the Wimbledon finals. Unforgiveable!

  • 108.
  • At 10:32 PM on 30 Jun 2007,
  • Francis Pressland wrote:

What I don't understand is that the Daily Politics on Wednesday is always on until 1pm to allow analysis and comments of the proceedings in PMQT. Had the BBC simply followed their normal schedule, we would not be looking a over 80 posts commenting on Helen Boadens apology and "kind-of" explanation. They should have put the tennis on BBC2 and used the occasion to boost awareness of the Daily Politics show by airing it on BBC1 and letting Andrew Neil anchor the whole proceedings.

  • 109.
  • At 08:57 AM on 01 Jul 2007,
  • Jenny wrote:

Was this cut to trails done by a staff member who was simply following a schedule and not monitoring the output, or was some machine simply running everything automatically, it being lunchtime? Surely we deserve an explanation of that level instead of simply "it was a cock-up"? It does otherwise invite theories of vindictiveness against the ex-PM, or lack of care for democracy.

  • 110.
  • At 01:21 AM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

I couldn't believe that your team even thought for one second that the second round of Wimbledon was more important than our Prime Minister's final speech to the nation. It was an abyssmal decision and a mere apology won't suffice. Somebody should be fired for what happened and the BBC must promise to never let it happen again.

  • 111.
  • At 05:20 AM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • Richard Harrison wrote:

Whats going on? Has Alistair Campbell got hold of a load of different ids?

Blair didn't resign for taking us to war to destroy WMD and not finding any. A cock up (or conspiracy) that has had far more serious consequences than cutting off a minute of ovation.

  • 112.
  • At 10:52 AM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • Michael Powell wrote:

Sorry to sound like a killjoy, but after last night can someone explain to me why the BBC can shift the news to make place for a benefit concert when it can't move Sue Barker in the rain for the end of Blair's last PMQs?

  • 113.
  • At 01:15 PM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • Blair Steel wrote:

Sometimes mistakes happen and it is fair and reasonable to forgive them when they do occur- most of the time. But this decision was just so ridiculous that it beggars belief. To cut from Blair's final PMQs to two anonymous tennis players in the first round at Wimbledon is just scandalous. Ms. Boaden's contrition is welcomed- but can she tell us why this happened, what procedures will be put in place to stop this from happening again, and when the programme will be re-broadcast, in full, on BBC 1 or 2 at an appropriate time? Surely the idea that this particular PMQs would a) be notable and historic; and b) may run over time; should have been obvious to all and flagged by the BBC well in advance? If this is the result of a decision made by one person, then that person is simply not up to the job that they have been given. I don't wish to see anyone losing their job- but I'm afraid in this case this person should be fired and moved to another position more suited to their abilities.

  • 114.
  • At 04:54 PM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • John R wrote:

I'm slightly mystified by both sides of this fracas. On the one hand, as embarrassing as the incident was it was hardly a sackable offence. It required apologies to the public, and we've had them.

On the other hand, I'm not really seeing much in the way of the BBC learning anything from the event. A mere "Oops! My bad!" is all very well and good, but what will the BBC be doing differently in the future to avoid similar cock-ups?

We don't need heads to roll. We need heads to get thinking, so that something like this doesn't happen again.

  • 115.
  • At 11:48 PM on 02 Jul 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I've never complained about a show before, but I emailed at the sheer stupidity involved in this decision to show a couple of adverts instead of Blair's final address to the chamber.

As is typical of a corporation like the BBC, where no one ever seems truly accountable, someone may get a telling off and a "don't do it again", but that'll be that.

All the other BBC channels were making the same "cock up", so I watched coverage on Sky, where Iain Duncan-Smith popped up after his appearance alongside Andrew Neil and co, complaining at the BBC's coverage.

I must admit I watched the last Blair PMQs on Sky - just because my reception on BBC 24 was playing up. I do usually prefer the Beeb's coverage.

What a shame people missed this. It was an amazing and moving session - and the ovation was well deserved.

But I WOULD say that, wouldn't I? I still have my blog keeptonyblairforpm up and running.

Don't worry - I haven't gone comPLETEly bonkers. I was about to take it down, but since so many people keep visiting the site AND I keep finding more jewels about our great former PM to add to it, well, it's still there.

So, if you want to see the whole unedited version - go here and scroll down to view it in Windows Media or Real Player.

There are many more such videos to view - from PMQs and other events at the site for those of us suffering withdrawal symptoms! Also audio tapes, pictures and comments on each page.

Missing you already, Mr Blair.

  • 117.
  • At 03:02 PM on 03 Jul 2007,
  • TONY STORY wrote:

I emailed you last week concerning the very poor judgement shown in cutting off the last PMQ's for Tony Blair.

I now want to question the very poor policy the BBC seems to have which assumes everyone watches Golf, Football, Tennis, Motor Racing to name but a few of the various sports to which you not only give more than adequate time, but are willing to change schedules, interupt schedules, start programmes late, and if that is not enough you then show most of these on both the BBC 1 and BBC 2 channels. If it happens to rain you then show replays, old games, anything except what perhaps should have been showing.

Another really bad habit you seem to have got into is starting and finishing programmes late. There is no need for this if scheduling is done properly. You now have 5 or 6 channels. Instead of haviing a dedicated channel for sport you seem to prefer to interupt any other programme which we, I assume the majority, would normally watch.

You also seem to have played into ITV's hands by showing ''commercials'' at similar intervals to them. One of the biggest reasons for the public watching BBC is to avoid the insescant adverts. You play the same 'plugs' over and over again, until you put us off watching whatever the programme was about.

Still to come is an irritating phrase which again you seem to have copied from the other channels.

For Gods sake, please wake up, do not play to whims, and be yourselves and take a few risks. Be on time, do not interupt programmes uneccessarily and only use the information bands at the bottom of the screen to show really important information as used to be the case. I get the impression that the BBC is now run by a group of teenagers who have few standards and want to be 'with it' all the time.

Do not forget, we do not all watch sport.

Get back to the excellent standards you used to have.

One last point - whose decision was it to have Gervais on the Princes' show. It was the 'pits', did not fit into the programme, and let everyone down with an awful embarrasing five minutes.

Tony Story

  • 118.
  • At 03:53 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • TONY STORY wrote:

So when am I going to get a real answer to my question - Why do you cut short the only serious news programme you have left ie. newsnight, (Wednesday night) to that you can show trailers before the next programme, and which took about 3 or 4 minutes. This could have been used to show us 'what the newspapers say'. Instead you think trailers are more important. If it had been snooker, golf, football, tennis, you would never have done so.
PLEASE wake up and sort this problem out.


  • 119.
  • At 11:54 PM on 04 Jul 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

Don't you think that the decent thing to do would be to close this down?
It seems that most people do not think so, but it could have been a mistake.
Those involved have to live with it and it has not done the BBC any good whichever way it is looked at.

  • 120.
  • At 11:44 AM on 05 Jul 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

The BBC has one very great advantage: it does not have to bore people to death with advertisements. This is the reason that many people are happy to pay a licence fee.
What does it do? It bores people to death with self-advertisements and, to make matters even worse, clips it's own programs to fit.
It really is unbelievable!

  • 121.
  • At 01:26 PM on 06 Jul 2007,
  • J Westerman wrote:

It was probably a mistake – a real clanger though!
The problem is that a lot of people now perceive a number of BBC journalists as interested in the character assassination of Tony Blair and his wife – not to mention his children.
Frantic journalism with it's gratuitous opinions and comments is doing damage, every day, to the credibility of even the best parts of the media.
The parting shot of the PM's wife:- “I do not think I will miss you” - speaks volumes, and in times to come will be a measure of the media of today.

  • 122.
  • At 03:49 PM on 09 Jul 2007,
  • matthew wrote:

Unbelievable, 10 years in charge, a sensational achievement, and the BBC cut off his standing ovation.

The stnading ovation should be broadcast again on the BBC in a special programme or something to make up for it. I am a youngster at university, and like many disgraced that Tony Blair was cut off.

Luckily I had a radio at hand and was able to listen to the end of PMQs with the ovation followed by John Pienaar's fantastic analysis.

However, it's still a disgrace that we missed seeing it live. I love tennis as much as the next man but there's a time and a place for everything, and for Wimbledon to intrude at such a moment was unforgivable.

Hopefully by 2017 and Gordon Brown's farewell PMQs before handing over to David Milliband the BBC will have learnt its lesson ...

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