BBC defends Langham play

Complaint over 'inappropriate' broadcast

The BBC has defended its decision to air a radio play starring Chris Langham while he awaits trial for alleged child sex offences.

A listener complained to Radio 4's Feedback programme that it was ‘totally inappropriate’ for the play, My Blue Heaven, to be broadcast until the charges were resolved.

In the surreal afternoon prodcuton – the first radio play by veteran writers Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran – Langham played an unemployed man who is visited by his imaginary friend from childhood, a blue teddy bear.

Defending the play on Feedback, Jeremy Howe, the Radio 4 commissioning editor for drama, said it was ‘gloriously witty, clever, funny and poignant, and bears no relationship at all to the case’.

He added: ‘I am sorry if we have caused any offence to listeners but I honestly don't think there is anything in the play which would cause offence.’

‘If you have got a treasure you want to exhibit it, and I think it is a treasure, a really outstanding piece of drama.’

Lanham has previously said he would withdraw from all BBC projects until the charges against him - nine child sex offences and 15 counts of making indecent images of children - were resolved. But My Blue Heaven, which aired last Wednesday, was recorded in March, two months before he actor was charged.

One visitor to the Radio 4 forums added: ‘I was rather taken aback by the Feedback correspondent who suggested it shouldn't have been broadcast because of the charges against Chris Langham. I wonder what harm they thought the broadcast might do; for that is surely the only reason why we ought to put restrictions on a defendant before the verdict.

‘I was also, not for the first time, annoyed at Feedback's broadcasting this item without letting us know whether the complainant was a lone voice or one of many.’

Published: 31 Oct 2006

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