BBC: ‘family breakdown too dark for prime time’

Fri, 19 Jun 2009

A family judge has blasted the BBC for moving documentaries on family breakdown out of a prime time slot because it thought they were “too dark”.

Mr Justice Coleridge said “Those in charge considered them to be ‘too dark’” but he suggested, “That, however, may be a symptom of a wider problem”.

“Yes, what goes on within broken families is dark – very dark. But we won’t throw any light on it if we refuse to acknowledge it and open it up to debate”, he added.

The High Court judge is accusing the BBC of shying away from the difficult subject by moving the documentary to the later time of 11:20pm.

Describing the BBC as “the most important opinion-former in the land”, he suggested that they wished to “avoid engaging in debate on this vital issue” by moving the two programmes out of the 9pm slot.

Mr Justice Coleridge, an outspoken critic of ‘broken Britain’ had a BBC camera crew follow him to film the documentary.

During the filming, the judge suggested to the BBC researcher that she should spend the day watching a run-of-the-mill High Court case.

He said she was “stunned into silence and remained speechless” when he told her that “within the Royal Courts of Justice, there were 20 or so other judges engaged in similar cases.”

“Across inner London, well over 100 family courts were dealing with family breakdown that day, in one guise or another. Multiply that across the rest of the country, and you get some feel for the scale of the epidemic”, he commented.

Mr Justice Coleridge warned: “There is a tendency, especially among the chattering classes, to assume that we have attained a social utopia, in which we are entirely and happily free from taboos, stigmas and other constraints on behaviour. It sounds so beguiling: let us all do what we want, when we want and sort out any mess as we go along.

“But surely the test of any social change is whether it enhances people’s lives or makes them more miserable. And this is where I take issue with the modern view of the family. If it is so successful, why are the statistics for separation so large?

“More significantly, why are the family courts overwhelmed with cases involving damaged, miserable or disturbed children? How do other children, caught up in less serious separations, really feel? Do they relish the endless changes of partner, or adapting to a new step-parent and step-siblings?”

Yesterday, Mr Justice Coleridge warned of the prevailing culture of broken relationships scarring children and damaging society.

He said the affirmation of marriage as the “gold standard” of relationship was the only way to stem the tide of broken relationships.

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