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Banned Falklands TV Play
Goes on Radio

Summarized from an article in the 'Daily Telegraph', Jan 2002.

A TV play about the Falklands War that the BBC refused to show a decade ago because it was "too Right-wing" and sympathetic to Mrs. Thatcher is finally to be put out on Radio 4 in April, on the 20th. anniversary of the start of the war. "The Falklands Play" by Ian Curteis caused enormous controversy when the playwright disclosed in 1986 that the BBC told him it would axe the 1m. drama unless he rewrote parts to show Mrs. Thatcher, the Prime Minister, in a less flattering light.

He refused and the play, which looks at the political background to the war and was commissioned as a major 3-hour TV drama to be shown on the 5th. anniversary of the Argentinian invasion, was dumped. There were angry debates in Parliament and the BBC was accused of Left-wing bias.

Ian said yesterday that, with the 20th. anniversary looming, he had written to Greg Dyke, BBC Director-General, earlier this year to ask if the Corporation would now consider broadcasting the play. The idea "slowly filtered through the system" and it was agreed it would be cut to a 90-minute radio play.

His anger at the time was heightened because he was asked to write a play sympathetic to Mrs. Thatcher's decision to retake the Falklands as "a corrective" to two other BBC plays, "Tumbledown" and "The Queen's Arms" which had been critical of the Government and, in the second, shown British soldiers as drunken louts.

In "The Falklands Play", Mrs. Thatcher was shown in tears. He was asked to rewrite scenes of Mrs. Thatcher's Cabinet meetings to show Ministers as hypocrites, taking military decisions for ulterior political motives.

Ian said : "The changes would have totally destroyed what the play was about but, unless I made them, I was told it would be cancelled, which I couldn't believe. But it was. I am a great admirer of the BBC but this was absolutely corrupt. Many at the BBC could not stand Margaret Thatcher".

Despite making heavy cuts, Ian Curteis says that the radio play fulfils his objectives.

A Radio 4 spokesman said : "There is a big difference between doing something like this very close to the event and after a 20-year gap. The situation has changed".

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