Army chief hits out over BBC drama
The head of the Army has written to the BBC, criticising a controversial drama showing bullying among British troops in Afghanistan, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
Sir Peter Wall, the Chief of the General Staff, wrote to BBC Director-General Mark Thompson to express his dismay over Accused, a BBC One drama which depicts a young soldier being brutalised before committing suicide.
The MoD said Sir Peter believed the show was "deeply offensive" to troops and their families.
A spokesman said: "The view of the Chief of the General Staff is that this programme is deeply offensive to all those serving.
"There are fears that those watching it will believe this is what is really happening to their loved ones. We have asked the BBC to make it clear that this is a fictitious programme, is not accurate and that the Army has nothing to do with making it."
A BBC spokeswoman confirmed that Mr Thompson had received a critical letter from Sir Peter and had responded but would not release the Director-General's reply.
The second episode of the six-part drama stars Mackenzie Crook as a bullying corporal and was written by Jimmy McGovern, the Bafta-winning TV dramatist whose credits include Cracker and The Street.
The BBC later defended the programme, which will be broadcast at 9pm on Monday.
A BBC spokeswoman said: "In the promotion of this new drama series by award-winning writer Jimmy McGovern, it has been made clear that Accused is a work of fiction. It is in no way an attempt to denigrate the servicemen and women of the British Army."
McGovern also stood by his script, saying he had "the greatest respect" for British troops. He said: "This episode is a work of fiction and, as a dramatist, I was interested in exploring how soldiers have to be at a certain mindset to kill. It is not my intention to slur British soldiers, for whom I have the greatest respect. At the heart of the drama is my belief in the sanctity of life."