BBC unveils the star of its First World War anniversary coverage – Rupert Murdoch

Media mogul to discuss his father's role in exposing the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in an hour-long interview

Media Editor

The father of Rupert Murdoch is to appear as the heroic and pivotal character in a BBC film that will tell the tragedy of Gallipoli, one of the most important programmes in the broadcaster’s coverage of the centenary of the Great War.

Keith Arthur Murdoch was a young Australian war correspondent who changed the direction of the war by exposing the 1915 Gallipoli campaign as a disaster, having broken a promise not to reveal information without having first submitted it to military censors.

In an hour long interview with the BBC, conducted at the New York headquarters of his global business News Corp, the media mogul has talked of his pride in his late father’s actions and how they inspired him to begin a career in newspapers.

“Gallipoli was so hopeless and so obviously hopeless. I mean, they landed on beaches which weren’t very wide and they faced these big cliffs which they had to try and climb up, meanwhile being shot at by the Turkish troops under Ataturk with machine guns. They were just sitting ducks,” said Mr Murdoch in part of the BBC interview.

He said he was anxious to keep the memory of his father’s achievements alive. “I have always kept in mind very much the, if you like, legacy of my father and the influence he had on me and I have his picture prominently on the wall of my study at home. We do feel - I feel - that’s a family obligation.”

Rupert Murdoch has been a constant critic of the BBC, its funding through a licence fee and its impact both on Britain’s commercial media market and the national debate. In a comment on his Twitter account this month, he asserted: “Huge lack of balance in UK media with 8,000 BBC left wing journalists far outnumbering all national print journalists.”

But he was only too willing to co-operate with the Corporation in the making of Gallipoli after receiving a letter from the experienced producer Denys Blakeway. “He was extremely open, friendly, accommodating – and he wasn’t shy of answering any questions,” the film maker told The Independent.

“I wouldn’t sday he was emotional but he spoke with feeling and great warmth. I think Rupert Murdoch is extremely proud of his father’s role in bringing the Gallipoli campaign to an end. His father was a journalist who pulled off a tremendous scoop in smuggling out his story. The authorities tried to prevent him getting his report out and confiscated it on his journey back to England – but he managed to remember it.”

The 60-minute film, due to be screened on BBC2 in 2015, “will hinge on Rupert Murdoch’s father’s action,” he said.

Rupert Murdoch's father Keith alerted the British Government to the disaster in Gallipoli (Getty; Rex) Rupert Murdoch's father Keith alerted the British Government to the disaster in Gallipoli (Getty; Rex)  

The project is still being made and Mr Blakeway said he was hoping that Mr Murdoch would agree to his request to do further filming at the site of the infamous beach head on the Turkish peninsula.

The producer said he did not detect any animosity towards Britain over the Gallipoli disaster, in which troops from the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) suffered particularly bad losses.

Keith Murdoch’s role at Gallipoli is not without controversy, given that the information he smuggled out was mostly second-hand and provided to him by the Daily Telegraph journalist Ellis Ashmead-Bartlett, an arch critic of the campaign. When Murdoch’s ruse to smuggle Ashmead-Bartlett’s report from the theatre of war was betrayed, he sat down in the office of the Australian High Commissioner in London and dictated his recollection of the report’s contents into an 8,000-word letter to Australian Prime Minister Andrew Fisher.

“It was an amazing document, a mixture of error, fact, exaggeration, prejudice, and the most sentimental patriotism, which made highly damaging charges against the British general staff…many of them untrue,” said the Australian writer Phillip Knightley. “But the basis of the charges – that the Gallipoli expedition was in danger of disaster – was correct.”

Rupert Murdoch funded and supported the making of a 1981 feature film, Gallipoli, which helped launch the international career of Mel Gibson and tells the story of two Western Australians who enlist for the ill-fated campaign.

The BBC Director General Tony Hall today launched the BBC’s plans for four years coverage and said the broadcaster had an obligation to “inspire a new generation to understand what happened”. The BBC will be making a special First World War edition of its popular Horrible Histories strand and the children’s channel CBBC will screen Emily’s Army on life a three-part drama  on the Home Front in the Great War, told through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl.

Central to the BBC’s centenary coverage will be its online offering, including a First World War portal which was described as a “Digital Cenotaph” and will include access to the Imperial War Museum’s 8m war service records. The BBC, which needs to make its case for a future licence fee beyond 2016, will also create a digital resource that will allow users to search an archive of over 1,500 audio stories for information on how the war affected their local area.  

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam