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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
BBC Queen Mother rethink denied
Lorraine Heggessey
Heggessey was speaking to the Broadcasting Press Guild
The BBC has denied reports that it has scaled back its plans for covering the death of the Queen Mother in the wake of the terror attacks on the US.

Several UK newspapers reported a speech by BBC One controller Lorraine Heggessey, in which she said said previous planned coverage in the event of the death of the Queen Mother had been reduced.

But a BBC spokeswoman said Heggessey's comments on Wednesday at the Broadcasting Press Guild had been taken "out of context" and "blown out of proportion".

"The Press Guild event was more a discussion rather than a formal speech," the spokeswoman told BBC News Online.

The Queen Mother
The Queen Mother: The BBC "tone" in the event of her death is under "assessment"
"In answer to questions from attending journalists, Ms Heggessey said the corporation was 'assessing the tone' of the coverage of the Queen Mother's death for the future.

"This is something we are constantly doing anyway and certainly does not mean there will be any scaling back."

The questions to Heggessey came following the blanket coverage devoted to the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September.

The extensive coverage of such a world event has led to comparisons with the way schedules were cleared following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Heggessey is reported to have told the Guild that the corporation's approach to the death of the Queen Mother would be "in tune with the times".

And she reportedly said that, as the Queen Mother had attained the age of 101: "The way we mark that may be different to the way we mark the premature end of a young life."


Heggessey took over as BBC One chief on 1 November 2000. At that time she described it as the "best job in British television".

Since then she has been largely applauded for her stewardship of the channel. BBC One has been doing well in terms of ratings, with its audience share steady at 26%.

But she has also been accused of selling out quality programming in the battle for viewers.

She moved BBC One's late news from 2100 to 2200 and brought back Absolutely Fabulous, Only Fools and Horses at Christmas and other shows like My Family and Down to Earth.

Purists argue that Heggessey should not get involved in such an open battle for audiences, when BBC One should have a public service commitment.

But Heggessey has defended her decisions, saying that in the last year, BBC One has become "vibrant, dynamic and exciting" and "in tune with today's world".

See also:

14 Sep 00 | Entertainment
First woman to run BBC One
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Heggessey one year on
24 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
Peaktime viewing gets factual
27 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
ITV Premiership ratings plunge
25 Aug 01 | TV and Radio
BBC rejects ITV chief's criticism
12 Sep 01 | TV and Radio
Millions watch attacks on live TV
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