Channel 4 say offensive shows will only be removed in “exceptional circumstances”

"We will begin from the premise that we should not destroy the past"

Channel 4 have said that offensive shows will only be removed in “exceptional circumstances” moving forward.

The channel’s Editor-At-Large Dorothy Byrne explained in an editorial for The Guardian that a review of practices is in place in order to solidify the principles of Channel 4.

“We know that it is a matter of judgement, but we will begin from the premise that we should not destroy the past, however embarrassing that past may be, except in exceptional circumstances,” Byrne began.

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“Those thousands of hours of material are not only our own history as a broadcaster, they are part of the social history of our country.”

Byrne continued by explaining that in instances where content might offend the viewer, those cases “are generally best handled by adding warnings rather than removing them entirely”.

The explanation also pointed to internal Channel 4 discussions with LGBTQ+ staff members. “They said they didn’t want the homophobia of the past hidden,” Byrne explained. “It was by fighting the attitudes shown by some characters in older programmes that minorities have achieved the rights and freedoms they have today.

“If much-loved characters in the past made homophobic comments or dressed up as people from other ethnic groups or pretended to be people who use wheelchairs, should we destroy that evidence of the social attitudes of the times?”

She added: “Cleaning up our past erases evidence of how views that we would now consider reprehensible were normalised.”

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The editorial follows the removal of various shows in the past few weeks, including Little BritainThe Mighty Boosh and The League of Gentlemen, for the use of blackface.

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