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24 September 2014
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BBC to debate the issues of war

BBC News announces an unprecedented campaign of public information about the question of war with Iraq, culminating with a public debate in prime time on BBC ONE.

A range of special programmes will run across all BBC networks featuring public seminars involving the BBC's top experts, a special interrogation of the Prime Minister by Jeremy Paxman and a series of special documentaries.

The BBC will ensure that all viewers and listeners have the chance to fully understand the issues facing the country over the question of war with Iraq.

BBC ONE and the BBC's interactive services will combine to offer viewers and listeners the largest forum for public debate on the war.

Iraq: Britain Decides, a 90 minute debate on BBC ONE on 12 February chaired by David Dimbleby, will examine the reasoning, concerns and repercussions behind a war in the Middle East.

An invited panel of guests will debate the ongoing views, and viewers will have the opportunity to air their thoughts.

The programme will also feature the highlights of a specially arranged BBC conference, a get-together of interested parties who will discuss the wide range of opinion regarding war and its consequences.

Joining David Dimbleby will be Peter Snow, who will examine the facts and figures involved if the decision is taken to send the troops into Iraq, and gauge the mood of the nation with a viewers poll.

Jeremy Paxman will tackle the Prime Minister on the case for British involvement in military action against Iraq in Blair on Iraq - A Newsnight Special on BBC TWO on Thursday 6 February at 9.00pm.

BBC ONE's Panorama will offer an incisive guide to the intricacies of a possible war, when acclaimed correspondents Andrew Marr, John Simpson and Matt Frei get behind the rhetoric and address viewers' concerns in an interactive special - Panorama: Tackling Saddam on Sunday 2 February at 10.15pm.

The series will also follow the crucial work of the United Nations' weapons inspectorate as reporter Jane Corbin hears from both sides of this explosive game of hide and seek in Panorama: Chasing Saddam's Weapons on Sunday 9 February at 10.15pm.

Rod Liddle takes a wry look at the alternatives available to the allied troops in overthrowing the Iraqi dictator in Seven Ways To Topple Saddam on BBC TWO this Sunday 26 January and Ed Stourton presents To The Brink, which tracks the story behind the events that have led to the impending turning point in the region.

In contrast, architectural historian Dan Cruickshank brings viewers a glimpse of the Iraqi history and culture following his recent travels throughout the country, in Dan Cruickshank and The Lost Cities Of Iraq on Sunday 2 February at 9.00pm.

Related programmes on the BBC's digital channels include Holidays In Axis Of Evil, BBC FOUR at 9.00pm on 27 and 29 January, which sees reporter Ben Anderson 'holiday' in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Libya and Cuba - the countries labelled the "axis of evil" by George W Bush.

BBC FOUR will also present a documentary on the history of Iraq. A BBC Northern Ireland production for the channel, the programme will cover the region from earliest civilisation, through to the reign of Saddam Hussein.

While on BBC THERE, The News Show will keep viewers informed of all the latest developments from all fronts.

On BBC Radio Four, Allan Little draws on interviews from those who have worked within the Hussein command to paint a picture of the man and his regime in The Making of Saddam on Monday 27 January at 8.00pm.

Richard Sambrook, the BBC's Director of News, said: "The BBC is unique in its ability to bring together a range of programmes using its expertise from across the globe to interpret the politics and examine the personalities involved. We will tackle the politicians and in the best traditions of public service broadcasting, give the audiences the platform to air their views."

Lorraine Heggessey, Controller BBC ONE, said: "This is a subject of national importance. We have dedicated 90 minutes of our prime time to schedule a live programme to ensure that viewers hear all sides of the argument and allow them to take part in the debate."

From Radio One's Newsbeat to Radio Five Live, BBC FOUR and News 24, the BBC's daily news coverage on television, radio and online will broadcast live throughout the day from Iraq Day - The Conference.

BBC reporters and presenters will chair the sessions which will debate all the different sides of the arguments for and against war, and the consequences.

BBC News Interactive will also provide live streams from all the sessions as well as continuing to provide the most comprehensive coverage of the crisis, on the internet, at its special BBC News Online website - - and via digital interactive television.

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, as well as six BBC radio networks.

The soon to launch BBC THREE will become available as it goes on air.



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