Section 6: Fairness, Contributors and Consent

Portrayal of Real People in Drama


Whenever appropriate, and where their role is significant, real people portrayed in a drama or their surviving near relatives should be notified in advance and, where possible, their co-operation secured.  There is less requirement to secure co-operation when dealing with people in the public eye, particularly if the portrayal is primarily of public aspects of their life.

Any proposal to go ahead against the wishes of the individual portrayed or their surviving near relatives must be referred to Director Editorial Policy and Standards for approval before a commitment is made to the production.

Unless dealing with people in the public eye and the public aspects of their lives, approval will only be given when it can be shown that the following three criteria are met:

  • The portrayal is fair
  • The portrayal is based on a substantial and well-sourced body of evidence whenever practicable.
  • There is a clear public interest.

(See Section 7 Privacy: 7.1 and Section 18 The Law: 18.4.1 - 18.5.1)


When drama realistically portrays living people in contemporary situations, particularly a controversial or sensitive event, we should ensure it does not unduly distort the known facts and thus become unfair.

(See Section 3 Accuracy: 3.4.19 and Section 7 Privacy: 7.4.7)