BBC defends decision to film Songs of Praise in Calais migrant camp

Spokesperson said the weekly Christian show tackled 'topical issues of the day'

Rose Troup Buchanan
Friday 07 August 2015 18:39
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Christian migrants from Eritrea and Ethiopia attend the Sunday mass in the makeshift church
Christian migrants from Eritrea and Ethiopia attend the Sunday mass in the makeshift church

The BBC has defended a decision to film segments of Songs of Praise from Calais as part of the show’s remit to examine topical and humanitarian issues of the day.

A BBC spokesperson confirmed to The Independent that “a couple of features would come from Calais” but said it was part of the show’s remit to examine “topical issues of the day”.

Although confirming that filming in the camp had taken place, the spokesperson claimed the show's “magazine format” meant the entire programme would not originate from the camp.

The Songs of Praise website lists the programme on Sunday 16 June as “Sally Magnusson joins Christians in the migrant camp known as ‘The Jungle’ near Calais.”

The spokesperson also confirmed the show would not be presented by Aled Jones, who had previously been named as having filmed in Calais.

A spokesperson for Mr Jones told The Independent that the presenter was “not involved nor does he know about a Songs of Praise from Calais.”

The apparent decision to film in Calais provoked anger online, with many social media users railing against the broadcaster’s decision to use “taxpayers’ money” to film in the notorious migrants’ camp.

However, many also praised the programme for addressing the massive humanitarian disaster outside the French port.

Thousands of migrants live in the camp – known as the ‘Jungle’ – outside Calais having fled horrendous conflicts in places such as Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Campaigners have called for more to be done to help these individuals, many of whom face death each day in desperate attempts to reach the UK.

Songs of Praise, first aired in 1961, is a religious programme that presents Christian hymns.

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