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Friday, December 3, 2021

Royal carol concert offered to ITV after BBC documentary dispute


The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are believed to have offered their Christmas concert to ITV instead of the BBC after a row with the corporation.

The couple are said to be unhappy with a new BBC documentary about the royal family’s relationship with the media.

The carol concert in Westminster Abbey was originally due to be broadcast by the BBC, according to The Sun.

But the event has moved channels following BBC Two’s The Princes and the Press documentary, the newspaper said.

Kate will reportedly host the concert, and the couple’s children, Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, are expected to appear. Kensington Palace, however, has not confirmed this.

Despite the change in broadcaster, the show is still expected to be recorded in early December and will be produced by BBC Studios, the corporation’s commercial production arm.

It will be produced in addition to ITV’s regular Carols at Christmas programme, which will air in December as usual.

ITV has not publicly confirmed that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s concert will be included in its holiday lineup, but media reports have suggested that it will air on December 23 or 24.

‘Overblown claims’

The BBC’s media editor and Today programme host Amol Rajan fronted the royal documentary

The Royal Family’s strained relationship with the BBC follows the broadcast of The Princes and the Press, hosted by the corporation’s media editor Amol Rajan.

The first episode of the two-part series, which examined Prince William and Prince Harry’s relationship with the media, aired on Monday.

It featured interviews with journalists such as Andrew Marr, Ian Hislop, Dan Wootton, and Camilla Tominey, as well as Omid Scobie, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s biographer, and Jenny Afia, the couple’s lawyer.

In Monday’s episode, it was suggested that negative stories about the Duchess of Sussex were leaked by courtiers and that rivalries existed between various royal households.

The second episode, which is set to air next week, is expected to delve into William and Harry’s feud. Royal aides are said to be concerned that it will include claims that the brothers briefed the press against each other through their advisers.

In response to the documentary, the royal households issued a joint statement, which was featured in the show, criticising the BBC for lending credibility to “overblown and unfounded claims.”

Earlier this week, the BBC said the programme was “about how royal journalism is done and features a range of journalists from broadcast and the newspaper industry”.

The lawyer for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex took part in the BBC documentary

The BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said the Royal Family were unhappy that they did not have the opportunity to view the documentary in advance.

“There is undoubtedly irritation in the Royal households, but especially at Kensington Palace and especially on the part of Prince William,” Witchell said. “We must remember that he still feels really quite aggrieved at the BBC over the Panorama interview with his mother [Princess Diana].

“These feelings are very raw, and they have been exacerbated by these two programmes, the Princes and the Press.”

Witchell added: “It appears that the BBC is to be punished.”

‘Independent and respectful’

At the Voice of the Listener and Viewer autumn conference on Wednesday, BBC chairman Richard Sharp was asked about reports that Kensington Palace had decided to move the concert to ITV.

“The BBC is a national institution, and we take our relationships with other national institutions very seriously,” he said.

“The Royal Family is at the heart of our identity, and its underlying significance is undeniable.” We have enormous respect for the Royal Family in all aspects of what they undertake and do.

“From time to time, this organisation produces programmes that may or may not be fully agreed upon by various parts of the establishment.” Our job is to get that right, to be self-sufficient and respectful.”

The BBC, BBC Studios, ITV, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge all declined to comment.

ITV’s royal editor Chris Ship quoted a source at the network as saying of the commission: “It was unusual for it to come to us this late.”

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