Michael Buerk: ‘Freedom of speech seriously under threat at BBC’

One of the BBC’s most distinguished broadcasters has hit out at the pernicious effect of ‘woke creep’ at the corporation.

In an article for the Radio Times, Michael Buerk argued that new and intolerant “orthodoxies” were increasingly shaping editorial choices at the BBC.

Buerk, a former newsreader for the Ten O’Clock News, has been hosting Radio 4’s The Moral Maze since it began in 1990.

‘Beyond challenge’

The award winning journalist said Radio 4 was guilty of a “hopeless yearning to connect with yoof” and was “increasingly woke”.

Regarding The Moral Maze, Buerk said it had become “a bit less abrasive” in recent times and admitted to worrying about its survival.

I do think freedom of speech is seriously under threat.

He said: “We used to pride ourselves it was a programme on which ‘the unsayable gets said’. There were no holds barred, the audience were grown-ups and didn’t need protecting from views they might not like.”

But now, he added: “In the wider world – and, it has to be said, in some parts of the BBC – more and more is being put off limits, things that cannot possibly be said, new orthodoxies that are beyond challenge. I do think freedom of speech is seriously under threat.”


In October, Paul Wood – a BBC foreign correspondent for 25 years – revealed that journalists at the broadcaster are being cowed into not reporting on controversial topics such as gender identity and race.

One former manager told Wood: “This is a nightmare and will end very, very badly for the BBC. Literally, there are people who think we should start banning words they don’t like and banning viewpoints they don’t like.”

Following his retirement in 2019, veteran journalist John Humphrys raised similar concerns about the stifling effect of “the politically correct brigade and the most fashionable pressure groups” on reporting at the BBC.

Also see:


BBC exits Stonewall scheme over questions of impartiality

BBC guilty of ‘Christophobia’, says former executive

BBC uses Call the Midwife to promote abortion once again