BBC1 controller Peter Fincham and Stephen Lambert, the chief creative officer of RDF Media, have resigned after a BBC inquiry into faked footage in an RDF docu commissioned by the pubcaster about Queen Elizabeth II revealed “misjudgments, poor practice and ineffective systems.”
Fincham, who repeatedly said he would remain in his job when the spat over the program erupted in July, may not be the only senior head to roll at the BBC, which has ricocheted from one crisis to another in recent months.
The report, written by ex-BBC topper Will Wyatt and ordered by director general Mark Thompson, accused those directly involved of being “slow to appreciate the magnitude and import of the mistake and consequent press story and failed to involve enough people swiftly enough.”
The report referred to a trailer for the docu “A Year With the Queen,” which appeared to show Queen Elizabeth storming out of a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz.
The trailer was shown at the press launch for BBC1’s fall schedule and Fincham told reporters that the monarch was depicted “walking out in a huff.” But the footage had been edited out of sequence.
Wyatt’s report revealed that within hours of the press confab Fincham discovered the story was untrue, but he did not correct it until the following morning — by which time it had been widely covered in the media, including a report on BBC News.
But Wyatt said he did not believe that anyone set out to defame or misrepresent the Queen.
The report also criticized RDF, producers of “Wife Swap.”
It said: “A fuse was inexcusably lit when RDF edited footage of the queen in a cavalier fashion for a promotional tape … The edit made it appear that the queen walked out of the photo shoot, when she did not.”
In a statement, Lambert, a former BBC documentary maker, said: “I am pleased that the Wyatt inquiry concludes that there was never any intention on the part of anyone at RDF to defame or misrepresent the queen in the tape that was prepared for the BBC1 launch.
“RDF did not cut the BBC1 launch tape, did not see it before transmission, and had no idea that it contained the shot of the queen cut in the wrong order.
“But my action, which I accept in the words of the inquiry was ‘cavalier,’ was the first step in a chain of carelessness and misunderstandings, which had very serious consequences.”
Both the BBC and ITV stopped commissioning shows from RDF, one of Blighty’s biggest indies, pending the results of the Wyatt inquiry.