“We’re receiving complaints about too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” reads a statement on the BBC Complaints page, which invites disgruntled viewers to submit their email address to register a complaint.
Shortly after news of the prince’s death broke at noon local time on Friday, the BBC was swift in clearing its entire schedule up to 6 p.m. Later in the day, primetime programs such as the “MasterChef” final — not to mention cult favorite “Gardeners’ World” on BBC Two — were also pulled to make way for news specials and tribute programs for the 99-year-old duke.
Evening programs on the BBC, across many of its channels, included “HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Remembered” as well as two airings of “A Tribute to HRH Duke of Edinburgh,” which featured interviews with Prince Charles and Princess Anne, presumably carried out shortly after his death.
On BBC Four, as of 10:45 p.m. Friday evening, there appears simply a blank screen that reads “Programs on BBC Four have been suspended. Please switch to BBC One for a major news report.”
Britons have not taken kindly to Friday night telly being sidelined for royal programming.
“Have just realised the BBC have pulled everything on BBC1 and 2 (including the Masterchef final), to show the EXACT same Prince Philip tribute. The exact same programme running on both channels simultaneously. That is truly bizarre,” said broadcaster Maïa Dunphy.
Have just realised the BBC have pulled everything on BBC1 and 2 (including the Masterchef final), to show the EXACT same Prince Philip tribute. The exact same programme running on both channels simultaneously. That is truly bizarre.
— Maïa Dunphy (@MaiaDunphy) April 9, 2021
Some said the corporation’s strategy “feels like Eastern Europe 40 years ago,” while others likened the Beeb to a “state propaganda channel.”
Am i the only one who thinks its ridiculous that every BBC radio channel is playing the same broadcast (about prince philip). Feels like eastern europe 40 years ago.
— Henry Stewart (@happyhenry) April 9, 2021
I see BBC have gone full on state propaganda channel 😣 #princephillip until midnight!
— Rachel harmony is back 3.5%💙🤝👍🇪🇺🌍🇦🇬 (@RachelG21879460) April 9, 2021
Others were simply nonplussed at the absence of soaps on the Friday schedule.
Despite understanding the significance of losing Prince Philip today, and not wanting to sound disrespectful, I don’t understand why BBC1 + BBC 2 are showing exactly the same tribute programme, or why there is no Neighbours, Emmerdale or Coronation Street on tonight. #Morbid
— judy mcdowell (@jcm247) April 9, 2021
ITV’s primetime schedule was not far off, with specials including “Prince Philip: Fondly Remembered” and “Prince Philip: A Royal Life” alongside ongoing news coverage.
Elsewhere, although it programmed a few hours of Prince Philip coverage earlier in the evening, Channel 4 received some heat for keeping its major Friday night shows — including “Gogglebox” as well as “The Circle” final — on air.
A spokesperson for the broadcaster said on Friday evening: “As an alternative public service broadcaster Channel 4 also has a duty to offer an alternative to others and, whilst we have marked this sad news appropriately in our schedules and on All 4, we will also continue to offer viewers the majority of our usual peak time schedule including ‘Gogglebox’ and ‘The Circle’ tonight.”