You may remember way back in April this year that the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen programme stirred up quite a response from us, other bloggers & many other Coeliacs and their friends & family. If you missed the programme, our gripe was that celebrity Chef Antony Demetre was allowed to come onto the show and discussed being a Coeliac then openly admitted that every few months he binges on as ‘much pasta and pizza as he can get otherwise his body rejects it’. Confused? Concerned? Frustrated by such mis-information on a national TV show funded by the public. You bet! We and many thousands of Coeliacs and concerned viewers wrote into the BBC to complain about the lack of editorial management, mis-information, blase attitude and general disregard that was shown to a medical condition. After all can you imagine a diabetic chef coming on specifically to talk about his diet, health & his diabetic recipes only pronounce he regularly binges on carbs & sugar? No we thought not.
So we’re pleased to announce that collaboration, persistance and Guerrilla pester power has finally paid of. Well kind of. For after all our complaints to the BBC & then OFCOM we have finally received notification that the BBC complaint has been upheld.
Hot off the press: The BBC website announces our Guerrilla complaints were upheld!
However, at the risk of seeming like ‘pain in the ass’ Coeliacs..we’re not happy.
Why? Well read the upheld complaint in full.
A guest chef with coeliac disease referred to his habit of regularly lapsing from his gluten-free diet, in terms which suggested that this was harmless, or even beneficial. A viewer complained that this created an impression which was misleading and potentially dangerous to children with gluten intolerance who might have been watching.
1. Err sorry BBC there were way more complaints than just ‘1 viewer’! Are you trying to insult Coeliacs even further? We believe in saying sorry properly when we make a mistake. Such a shame you don’t…
The Chairman of the Clinical Services & Standards Committee of the British Society of Gastroenterology confirmed to the ECU that significant lapses from a gluten-free diet would damage the small intestine and increase the risk of cancer. The impression given in the programme should have been avoided or corrected.
2. Oh good - you went to the top to get some medical advice on this before you upheld the complaint. Sadly this just reinforces that the show’s production team (Catcus) didn’t do their homework in the first place. And why wasn’t seeking advice from the UK’s National Charity, Coeliac UK good enough…?
The production team has been reminded that accuracy is important, even when guests discuss how they manage their own medical conditions on the live programme.
3. This one really made us smile. Who knew that accuracy was important within programming? Hmm? This is a very back handed apology. For anyone who watched the original show can see that the show’s presenters and the focus of the recipes were about gluten free food due to the chef’s health condition. So in that context whilst he was discussing his own ‘way of managing his health’ it was highly in appropriate to say what he did and even more so for the rest of the team to laugh nervously when he admitted eating gluten as a coeliac.
4. Where is the acknowledgement that a public apology needs to be made?
After all many members of the general public, newbie Coeliacs, chefs etc may well have believed the tosh that was spouted on the BBC show that day.
5. Why did the BBC merely issue at the time what appeared to be a PR statement (as if written from Antony Demetre’s agent) to all who complained?
- A full on air apology from the BBC
- A full apology from the BBC on their website that indicates more than 1 viewer complains
- A positive programme from the BBC that showcases coeliac lifestyle & gluten free food in an accurate way to help bust any myths that the original show may have helped to perpetuate
So Guerrillas if you feel the same. Get writing to the BBC Board of Directors & OFCOM. A half hearted apology isn’t an apology in our books.