Romanticism v’s Asbestos Reality (Part 2) – the BBC Response

Following my blog post on the BBC’s programme Restoration Home and its failure to highlight for viewers the dangers of asbestos in domestic situations where renovation is being carried out I made a formal complaint to the BBC.

I had originally been alerted to the programme by my sister, who had already before she told me about the programme complained to the BBC. Whilst we were both complaining about the BBC’s failure to inform viewers of the dangers of asbestos and the way asbestos removal was handled in the programme, my complaint differed in that I as well alluded to the way the architectural expert was seen on camera moving about the barn, giving the viewing public the perception of a lack of danger, but in fact he and the camera crew would be clearly at risk from the asbestos dust that would be lying on the floor of the barn.

As my sister’s complaint was sent some days before my complaint, she as the first to receive a reply, with their response to me coming several days later. The email responses are word for word indentical, but are signed by different members of the BBC Complaints unit. I wonder if the genuine author of the email is concerned about a false attribution in the other email!!!

This is what the email says:

I understand you  are concerned that some of the building practices featured on the programme, particularly in relation to asbestos, were unsafe. I have raised your concerns with the programme makers who would like to assure you that they in no way condone or endorse any building practices carried out by the subjects of the programme. Restoration Home is an observational documentary and, as such, the works being carried out by the owners and contractors are of their own doing.

We are there in an observational capacity only and we do not advise on issues as they are deemed as competent people. While I acknowledge your very strong and very personal views on this subject, it is important to note that the series is in no way intended to be instructional.

 Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. So because it is an ‘observational’ programme they have no responsibility towards the viewing public for its content! I take it as well that because it is an ‘observational’, non instructional programme, they would not have to provide a warning for example if there were flash photography, or need to provide that familiar warning in programmes – please do not try this at home. What absolute nonsense.

It seems clear to me that this response email was written for my sister’s complaint and they felt able to try to also fob me off with it. It totally fails to address my point regarding the risk faced by the architectural expert and the film crew and the impression given to the viewers. Such risk was nothing to do with the couple carrying out the renovation, and the fault for potential negligent exposure to asbestos lies entirely in the hands of the production company.

I have informed the BBC that I reject their explanation and have asked them under their complaints procedure to review my complaint again. Stay tuned for the next instalment.

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