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BBC Staff in Trouble for Potentially Offending Muslims

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A sign of the impending apocalypse: BBC staff members are in trouble for offending Muslims. (Hat tip: Wishbone.)

Members of the BBC London news team today face a grilling from senior bosses after they filmed a spoof video making light of the conflict in the Middle East.

The film, a skit on Peter Kay’s (Is This The Way To) Amarillo? was made to mark the departure of assistant editor Simon Torkington who is going to the news channel Al-Jazeera International in Qatar with his wife, former ITV news anchor Shiulie Ghosh.

The joke video was shown at a private leaving party for Torkington “Storky” - last week. But a copy has been leaked to the Standard by a BBC insider angry that licence fee payers’ cash was used to make a “tasteless” skit that could cause offence to Muslims.

BBC London journalists, including transport correspondent Andrew Winstanley and reporter Sarah Harris, are seen singing a spoof version of the hit song in tea towel head dresses and fake Arabstyle beards, to a video backdrop featuring real-life news footage of missile launchers, tanks and soldiers in gas masks.

BBC London special correspondent Kurt Barling - who has reported extensively on the issues facing Britain’s Muslim community - appears bare-chested and dancing in a Muslim prayer hat. The re-jigged lyrics feature jokes about Osama bin Laden, the traditional Islamic jilbab dress and the Palestinian Intifada. Fronting the video in the Peter Kay role is Ian Wade, a member of BBC London management staff who hit the headlines last summer when he was caught up in the devastating Piccadilly line bombing.

Others said to feature in the video, which sees the group dancing in a stairwell at the BBC’s Marylebone headquarters, in a lift and leaping out of a BBC London van outside the offices, include news anchor Matt Barbet, arts correspondent Brenda Emmanus and reporter Karthi Gnanasegaram, along with half a dozen others who join the dancing at the end.

And notice: these BBC reporters are being preemptively condemned, apparently before any Muslims have complained.

Although the video was never intended to be broadcast outside the BBC, sources say it calls into question the judgment of those involved at a time of heightened sensitivity among Muslim communities.

One insider said: “At a time of great community sensitivities [Not to mention all those terror plots… —ed], is it right for the BBC’s reporting team in London to be seen dressing up as stereotypical Arabs or Muslims, singing and dancing?”

Here’s the incredibly awful video. (Windows Media format.)

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 Frank says:

Heaven would be a place where bullshit existed only on television. (Hallelujah! We's halfway there!) -- Television. Sometime probably in 1988. The Real Frank Zappa Book p. 234