Former BBC presenter Dan Walker has said the BBC made a ‘mistake’ in its coverage of Prince Philip’s death, which was actually the corporation’s most-complained about television moment of 2021 by viewers.
The Duke Of Edinburgh died at Windsor Castle in April 2021 at the age of 99, prompting the network to clear its schedules across both BBC One and BBC Two to run a series of mirrored special programmes.
The coverage also took over the news channel and BBC radio stations.
However, Dan, who is due to start as a 5 News anchor on Monday having departed from his BBC Breakfast role, has claimed that the blanket coverage was a ‘mistake’ and shouldn’t have been ‘forced’ to viewers across the nation.
He said: ‘When the Duke of Edinburgh did die, I do think that the BBC did make a mistake in putting the same output on BBC One on BBC Two.’
Dan added that the criticism the corporation received over this coverage was ‘rightly so.’
Ex-BBC presenter Dan Walker branded the blanket coverage a ‘mistake’ (Picture: MCPIX/REX/Shutterstock)
‘I think that’s where the balance should have come in,’ he continued. ‘Because you can’t force grief upon a nation.
‘You can report on it… but you can’t make everybody feel the same way.’
Prince Philip died in April last year (Picture: Getty Images)
A total of 109,741 people complained about the BBC’s decision to clear its schedules across BBC One and BBC Two to run a series programmes about the late royal.
The broadcaster said at the time: ‘We received complaints about our coverage of the passing of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
‘The passing of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally.
The BBC’s wall-to-wall coverage following Prince Philip’s death sparked thousands of complaints (Picture: Getty)
‘We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed TV and Radio schedules.
‘We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.
‘We are grateful for all feedback, and we always listen to the response from our audiences.’
Director-general Tim Davie said during a BBC board meeting on April 22 that ‘lessons will be learned’ from the coverage and complaints.
The Queen, who sat alone due to Coronavirus restrictions during Prince Philip’s funeral, had been married to The Duke of Edinburgh since 1947 (Pictures: PA)
According to minutes from the meeting, Mr Davie said its coverage had ‘reflected the role of the BBC as the national broadcaster’ and praised the response of the production teams as ‘accomplished’.
The minutes continued: ‘The audience for the funeral coverage was very strong delivering a peak of over 13 million viewers, while viewing on the night of the announcement was lower than expected at 2.6 million across BBC One and BBC Two.
‘The decision to simulcast coverage across BBC One and BBC Two had resulted in a record number of complaints. The executive were looking at lessons to be learned.’
Last month, Dan bid farewell to the early morning news programme over at BBC, which he first joined in 2016.
Not long after, he revealed he had headed over to the Channel 5 studio to take a look around his new workplace… and he seemed to like what he saw.
Sharing a black and white selfie on Twitter, he wrote: ‘I had a little look around my new TV home today. They all seem lovely at @5_News.’
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