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Episode 4 of 8
Nick Robinson, BBC Political Editor, continues his series on relations between broadcasters and politicians. In this programme he looks at the battle between the BBC and Harold Wilson, the then Labour Party leader, over 'Yesterday's Men', a documentary programme broadcast in July 1971, a year after Labour had lost office to Edward Heath's Conservatives.
Relations between Wilson and the BBC had been difficult for some time before the documentary was made, and this programme provoked a huge row. The title of the programme cheekily turned Labour's dismissal of the Conservatives as 'Yesterday's Men' against them, and Labour objected to some of the programme's content. Although the programme was broadcast, relations between Harold Wilson and the BBC never fully recovered. The documentary reflected a desire to make political coverage more entertaining and heralded further tensions between broadcasters and politicians.
In previous programmes in this series, Nick Robinson looked at the impact of the General Strike in 1926; the clash over foreign policy during the 1930s and Churchill's wartime broadcasts; and the clash between broadcasters and the government during the 1956 Suez crisis.
In later programmes, he examines the relationship between broadcasters and politicians during more recent crises - clashes over reporting 'The Troubles' in Northern Ireland, culminating in the broadcasting ban on terrorists and their supporters; the Falklands War; Iraq; and the relationship between broadcasters and politicians in the age of 24-hour news.
Producer: Rob Shepherd.
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