Prince Philip funeral: BBC defends 'too long' coverage of service

BBC defends its coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral as viewers complain four-hour programme led by Huw Edwards was too long

  • BBC defended coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral after viewers complained its programme was too long
  • Corporation devoted more than four hours to coverage that day, beginning at 11am on BBC One 
  • Huw Edwards was joined by guests Sir David Attenborough, Gyles Brandreth and Alan Titchmarsh  
  • Viewers also rushed to social media to criticise Edwards for talking over too much of the historic event 

The BBC has defended its coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral last Saturday after viewers complained that the four-hour programme fronted by presenter Huw Edwards was too long. 

It comes after the corporation received more than 110,000 complaints for cancelling its typical Friday night viewing to cover news of the death of the Duke of Edinburgh on April 9 at the age of 99. 

The BBC devoted more than four hours to coverage of the funeral, beginning at 11am on BBC One with The Duke: In His Own Words – one of Philip’s last interviews – before Edwards took over at 12.30pm.

Watched by an average of almost seven million people, Edwards was joined by guests Sir David Attenborough, Gyles Brandreth and Alan Titchmarsh to share memories of Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99. 

However, viewers complained that the coverage of the historic event was too long. Others rushed to social media to criticise the presenter for talking over too much of the historic event and said they had switched to rival ITV to watch the funeral due to Edwards’ ‘constant inane chatter’.

In its response, the corporation noted on its website that it had received complaints but said that it does not make changes to its schedule without ‘careful consideration’. The BBC told MailOnline it publishes the number of complaints made every fortnight, if more than 100 have been made.

The broadcaster said: ‘The funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally. 

‘We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed BBC One schedule. We do not make such changes without careful consideration, and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster during moments of national significance. 

The BBC has defended its coverage of Prince Philip’s funeral last Saturday after viewers complained that the four-hour programme fronted by presenter Huw Edwards was too long

Other viewers rushed to social media to criticise the presenter for talking over too much of the historic event and said they had switched to rival ITV to watch the funeral due to Edwards’ ‘constant inane chatter’ 

Viewers rushed to social media to say they had ‘switched to ITV’ to watch the historic event instead because of Edwards’ ‘constant inane chatter’ over footage of the procession ahead of the official ceremony

Watched by an average of almost seven million people, Edwards was joined by guests Sir David Attenborough, Gyles Brandreth and Alan Titchmarsh to share memories of Philip, who died on April 9 at the age of 99 

‘We are grateful for all feedback, and we always listen to the response from our audiences.’  

Coverage on ITV was fronted by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham and began at 1.15pm. MailOnline’s Dan Wootton was the first to reveal that Prince William ended his long-standing friendship with Bradby because of his concerns he sided with Prince Harry.

The Queen looked grief-stricken and bowed her head in reverence as she accompanied her beloved Philip’s coffin on its final journey. Prior to Prince Philip’s coffin emerging from the State Entrance, Edwards provided background and context in a voice over from a studio in the grounds of Windsor. 

Viewers rushed to Twitter to share their frustration at Edwards’ interjections, with Ruth Nguyen writing: ‘Poor coverage by the beeb. 

‘Huw Edwards just kept talking throughout. Repetition, same coverage as all the other programmes. ITV did a more sensitive and moving programme. Get a grip BBC.’

Meanwhile, Jackie Racher said she ‘switched to ITV coverage of the funeral’ because ‘Huw Edwards’ constant inane chatter was driving us crackers’.

Jon Waples said: ‘BBC coverage is awful. Huw Edwards sounds just like Uncle Bryn from Gavin and Stacey giving us talk on the Land Rover.

‘ITV, quiet, few comments, respectful.’

ITV’s funeral coverage began at 1.15pm fronted by Bradby and Julie Etchingham. Prince William recently ended his long-standing friendship with Bradby because of his concerns he sided with Prince Harry 

Alone in grief, the Queen sat on the opposite side of the church as she says goodbye to her husband at his funeral in extraordinary and poignant circumstances due to the pandemic

A tearful Prince Charles watches as his father’s body is carried to the altar, as he is supported by his wife Camilla

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery move along The Long Walk towards the castle ahead of the procession

Another Twitter user added: ‘Watching Prince Philip’s funeral and have had to turn over to ITV. Does Huw Edwards ever shut up? Or even pause for breath?’ 

Edwards was joined by JJ Chalmers and Sophie Raworth who reported from ‘key locations’ for the BBC’s coverage of the day.     

The BBC’s coverage saw Edwards joined by guests who knew the duke, and Royal experts who share their thoughts on a remarkable life of duty and service.

Sir David Attenborough – a friend of the duke’s – described Philip as ‘an extraordinary combination of being formidable and actually being cheerful’.

He added: ‘You knew he was there in an extraordinary way, he had an amazing presence.’

He said the duke performed a ‘balancing act between formality and informality’, adding that he ‘both put you at your ease but also made you aware that you were actually to some degree on parade’.

Following the ceremony, royal commentator Katie Nicholl told Edwards that ‘this was the day when the brothers were going to put and did put their differences aside’.

Commenting on footage of the pair talking while walking back to Windsor Castle, she said: ‘Clearly there are things that need to be sorted out. 

‘If there is one thing we have seen today: this is a family with real emotions and feelings and rifts all being part of it. To see them together it for sure brought back many memories for them.’

Meanwhile, Robert Hardman said: ‘I think today we saw the start of them coming back together.’  

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