BBC delays podcast on the Duke and Duchess of Sussex after related documentary draws 925 complaints

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The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured in September - Reuters

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex pictured in September – Reuters

The BBC has delayed indefinitely a controversial podcast about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex that was due to air two weeks ago, after its accompanying television series received nearly 1,000 complaints.

The BBC was intending to broadcast a podcast series about “Harry, Meghan and the media”, including provocative themes of “sexism, racism and strategic leaks”.

Compiled from more than 80 hours of interviews with members of the press who wrote about them, the corporation said it set out to examine: “Why did the coverage of Meghan Markle turn so sour, so quickly?”

The podcast was supposed to air on the same day as the second instalment of the two-part television series Princes and the Press, on Monday, November 29, but was delayed on the day.

The BBC said it was “still in production” and that it would be released as a box set only on an unconfirmed date “when it’s ready”.

The corporation has received 925 complaints about the television series so far, from viewers “who believe the programme was disrespectful to the Royal Family and therefore should not have been broadcast”.

The Royal Households have also objected to the show, issuing a rare joint statement to condemn it for giving credibility to “overblown and unfounded claims” about the family.

Aides were particularly frustrated about what they perceived was a lack of proper “right of reply” to allegations in the programme, with the BBC refusing to give details about what the claims were and who was making them.

The claims within it, including those about briefings between rival palaces, were examined closely by lawyers, with the Duchess of Sussex’s solicitor appearing on camera to deny allegations of her bullying behaviour.

The corporation has insisted it did approach the palace, and included a statement from it at the end of the show.

The podcast was expected to include far more controversial material.

Presented by Amol Rajan, it promises: “Allegations of sexism, racism and strategic leaks – we examine them all.”

It covers the claims of the Duke and Duchess that “sexism and racism in the media coverage” played a role in them stepping down from official duties to pursue financial freedom in California, and the couple’s various legal cases against the press.

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