BBC asked Hare to criticise Queen

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The Independent Online

The playwright David Hare has revealed that he was once asked by the BBC to provide negative comments for a programme to be shown on the night of the Queen's death.

The revelation follows the row earlier this year over a trailer for the BBC documentary A Year With The Queen, which misleadingly showed the monarch storming out of a photo-shoot with Annie Leibovitz.

Writing in this week's New Statesman, Hare, whose plays include Stuff Happens, about the invasion of Iraq, said the BBC also asked him to give a less than flattering view of Baroness Thatcher, for an obituary it was preparing of the former Prime Minister.

"A few years ago I was rung up by the BBC and asked if I could record an interview for a film they were preparing for the night the Queen dies," said Hare.

"They told me that everyone they had chosen to speak to had unsurprisingly turned out to be an admirer, and, in the fabled interests of balance, they needed the opposing point of view. 'Oh,' I said, 'you mean you want me to attack the Queen on the night of her death?' I declined, not because it was the Queen, but because it was anyone."

He added: "In fact, as it happens, they asked me again, this time for Margaret Thatcher and I said no a second time."

In his damning report on the Leibovitz affair, the former BBC executive Will Wyatt concluded that: "A vital relationship that between the BBC and the Royal Household had been, at the very least, placed under strain."