Belfast Telegraph

McGovern 'quizzed over Man U bias'

TV dramatist Jimmy McGovern says he was taken to task by BBC chiefs over concerns that his writing would offend Manchester United fans.

The screenwriter, whose credits include Cracker, Hillsborough and Sunday, said he was approached by the corporation's compliance unit over hit drama The Street.

He told the Radio Times: "I ask, 'What is the point of this unit?' And the response is, 'It's in case you cause offence.' They've asked questions, particularly about the anti-Manchester United bias in The Street - there was this big spiel about a character wanting to shoot Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand."

The Liverpool-born writer said: "I told them every chance I get I write with anti-Manchester United bias. I'm a dramatist. Imagine on my tombstone if it read, 'Jimmy McGovern, writer - never offended anybody'. How would I feel? That's my job."

The BBC Trust, the corporation's governing body, demanded tougher compliance procedures after the Queen was misrepresented in a 2007 promotional trailer. Further measures were introduced after Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand left obscene messages on the answering machine of actor Andrew Sachs during a Radio 2 show in 2008.

McGovern, whose latest drama series, Accused, is about to be broadcast on BBC One, added: "I don't think anyone (at the BBC) has ever come back to us about a story.

"We ask questions ourselves - and the question we ask is, 'Is this real?' There are no black people in my dramas, or very, very few, but that's because I understand the white working class and I write about that. I don't think that's ever been put to us by the BBC. We did three series of The Street and the three of them were good. So I think the BBC respect us."

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