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History Repeats

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Interesting article in today’s Guardian. This is the beginning of the article:

When the television historian Marc Morris settled down in his Oxford home to watch a BBC documentary about Harlech castle earlier this month, it was with not inconsiderable interest: a year ago, he had made a programme for Channel 4 about the same building.

But Morris's interest turned to surprise and then anger when, a few minutes into the film, he began to recognise some of the words and phrases used by his fellow broadcaster, Dan Cruickshank. As the BBC4 programme progressed, it became apparent that sections of Morris's Channel 4 documentary, and the book that accompanied it, had been lifted and used virtually unaltered.

As soon as the programme was over, Morris drafted a letter to the BBC listing eight significant "borrowings" and several less obvious derivations. So clear-cut was his complaint that the corporation immediately re-edited the programme before its repeat showings and apologised to him. The Guardian has learned that the BBC has this week offered to pay Morris a four-figure sum, thought to be about £4,000, which the historian will ask to be given to the restoration fund of Rochester Castle.

The incident has raised questions about the standards of history programmes on television, a genre that has expanded enormously since the success of big-budget series fronted by Simon Schama and David Starkey. It also raises issues of trust and authenticity: the programme was billed as "written and presented by Dan Cruickshank", although it appears he did not write the disputed passages.


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  • 8 months later...

Here, in the U.S. most television produced documentaries are so filled with half truths, plagerism and political leanings that generally they are not used that much in classrooms.

The best channel we have on our TV is a cable network called The History Channel. They have some very well done shows that are user friendly to teachers.

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