BBC condemned over Thatcher story

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Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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The BBC has sparked criticism over plans to broadcast a “mischievous” story on Radio 4 imagining the assassination of Margaret Thatcher.

The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel will feature in the station’s Book At Bedtime slot.

But Lord Tebbit told the Mail on Sunday: “It is a sick book from a sick mind and it’s being promoted by a sick broadcasting corporation.”

Meanwhile Lord Bell told the paper the BBC is “inevitably going to be accused of political bias”, adding: “If it really was independent it would avoid doing things that were provocative.”

But a BBC spokesman said the literature is “of significant interest to the public”.

He said: “Book At Bedtime offers the best of modern and classic literature and, in doing so, presents a wide range of perspectives from around the world.

“The work of Hilary Mantel – a double Booker Prize-winning author – is of significant interest to the public and we will not shy away from the controversial subject matter that features in one of the four stories read across the week.”

The broadcast from Mantel’s collection of short stories will go out in the week of January 5 and will be read by Dame Harriet Walter.

BBC Radio 4 Publicity said online: “In Hilary Mantel’s mischievous story, a knock at the door announces an unexpected visitor who has plans to alter the course of history as people know it.

“The stories selected from Mantel’s collection The Assassination Of Margaret Thatcher are dark and sharply observed.

“From the middle-class woman with powerful feelings about a former prime minister to the woman trapped in her apartment in Jeddah to the two young girls who during the heat of the summer holidays venture into forbidden territory, each of the stories deals with psychological unease, and at the same time is wickedly witty.”

Thatcher’s biography was Book Of The Week on Radio 4 when it was published.

Two-time Man Booker Prize winner Mantel, who made her name dissecting the 16th century court intrigues of King Henry VIII’s adviser Thomas Cromwell, has not been afraid to speak out about modern-day Britain.

Last year, the Wolf Hall author attacked the Duchess of Cambridge as a ”shop-window mannequin” with no personality, whose only purpose is to breed.

During a lecture at the British Museum, she criticised Kate as appearing to have been ”gloss-varnished” with a perfect plastic smile in contrast to the late Princess of Wales, who she described as awkward and emotionally incontinent.

She went on to suggest that the ”painfully thin” Kate was selected for her role of princess because she posed no risk of showing any character.

Published: Sunday 14th December 2014 by The News Editor

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