Leading article: Artful performances

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FIRST LOUISE Woodward, now Earl Spencer. Has the BBC given up on serious journalism altogether? Panorama was once the BBC's flagship current affairs programme. On Monday, however, it sunk to its lowest depths with a cringe-making "interview" with Louise Woodward. It was a piece of puffery which she could have scripted herself. We each have our own views on Ms Woodward, but she is a convicted child killer, properly tried and convicted. For her to be given 40 minutes of prime-time television to put her case as she saw fit was ratings-chasing at its worst.

As if that was not enough, last night the BBC gave three-quarters of an hour to the sanctimonious Earl Spencer. That he lost a sister in so tragic a way was cause enough for sorrow for him. There is a sense, however, that he is building a career out of this. Last night's nauseating spectacle was par for the course. Shame on the Earl, and even more shame on the BBC.