This recording is believed to have been made during the blackout of TV-am’s Good Morning Britain, as a result of widespread strike action by UK TV and radio journalists.

The walkout was caused by what was seen as Government censorship, when a BBC programme – Real Lives – featuring interviews with the deputy leader of the republican political party Sinn Féin and alleged IRA chief of staff, Martin McGuinness, was prevented from being broadcast.

The Home Secretary of the time, Leon Brittain, had asked for the programme to be banned. BBC management objected to this, on the grounds that it compromised the BBC’s independence.

In a letter to the BBC, Mr Brittain said:

It must be damaging to security and therefore wholly contrary to the public interest to provide a boost to the morale of the terrorists and their apologists in this way. I cannot believe that the BBC would wish to give succour to terrorist organisations; and it is for this reason that I hope you and your colleagues will agree on reflection that the programme should not be broadcast.

Extract from a letter from Home Secretary, Leon Brittain, to the BBC

However, in spite of protestations from BBC management, the BBC Board of Governors opted to ban the programme.

On the day the programme was due to be transmitted – 7th August 1985 – BBC TV and radio journalists walked out on strike. There was a complete blackout of news at the Corporation. BBC members of the Broadcasting and Entertainment Trades Alliance (BETA) voted to join the protest – this included camera operators, engineers and producers.

Other casualties of the BBC strike action included a recording of Top of the Pops – the programme went out live the following night. The live 7pm edition of Wogan was replaced. Ceefax was also heavily impacted.

ITN journalists also refused to work that day. STV journalists walked out in support of their BBC colleagues. Grampian and Border TV news programmes remained on air. Many other journalists across the country joined the protest.

VIDEO: TV-am off air due to a strike by journalists. TX DATE: 7th August 1985. COPYRIGHT: Unknown. VREF: 24182-01.

Video content

[00:00:00] INFORMATION GRAPHIC: it’s unclear if the same apology caption was broadcast across the ITV network, or if individual main transmitters were sending out their own version of this caption. There was no music with the caption – only silence.


PICTURED: IBA apology graphic. COPYRIGHT: Unknown.

Posted by The Rewind Team

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