'Horizon' censured for unfair treatment

Horizon, the BBC flagship science programme, is to be criticised for the first time by the Broadcasting Standards Commission for being unfair to two authors who believe the world was once dominated by a "lost civilisation".

Horizon, the BBC flagship science programme, is to be criticised for the first time by the Broadcasting Standards Commission for being unfair to two authors who believe the world was once dominated by a "lost civilisation".

The BBC has been forced to re-edit the Horizon programme "Atlantis Reborn", which questions the maverick theories of Graham Hancock and Robert Bauval, authors of the bestsellers Fingerprints of the Gods and The Orion Mystery. The two men have also challenged the BBC to broadcast a live debate in which they can argue their case - but the corporation confirmed yesterday that no debate was planned.

Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval believe that an advanced civilisation with sophisticated technology once inhabited the earth but was destroyed by a global cataclysm at the end of the ice age, around 10,500BC. Their theory suggests that the "lost civilisation" was behind the building of the pyramids - an argument that helped to sell more than four million books, and which was questioned in the Horizon programme.

Dr Edwin Krupp, an astronomer, said the authors' assertion that the pyramids at Giza represented the constellation of Orion "could be made to work only by turning upside down either the image of Egypt or that of the sky".

The authors' essential rebuttal of the upside-down argument was left out. They contest that Dr Krupp's evidence relies on the modern convention that north is up, and that the ancient Egyptians would have modelled the pyramids on Orion "as they saw it".

BBC insiders acknowledged yesterday that the programme was being edited "a teeny bit" to include Mr Hancock and Mr Bauval's response - in time for a rebroadcast due on 14 December - just over a year after the original. The corporation is sticking by the programme's team, and points out that only one of 10 complaints by the two authors was actually upheld by the watchdog.

The unsuccessful complaints included Mr Hancock's assertion that the programme made him out to be an "intellectual fraud", and Mr Bauval's argument that it made his Giza-Orion Correlation Theory - which also links the Nile with the Milky Way and the Sphinx with the constellation of Leo - seem to be a con.

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