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Why sorry is such a hard word.

Byline: Paddy Shennan

FUNNY things apologies.

Last week I previewed a new TV series, which starts tomorrow on Bravo, called The Real Football Factories.

I had received a rough cut of the second programme, which focuses on the north west. It referred to the Hillsborough disaster and, depressingly, trotted out those tired old lies: ". . .hundreds of fans without tickets had stormed the terraces" and "this horrific event forced the government to act - hooliganism had to be stamped out."

I alerted the PR company which sent me the DVD to the crass gaffe, while an equally stunned colleague - the Daily Post's Mike Chapple, who is interviewed on the programme - contacted the producers, Zig Zag. Liverpool fans, who discussed it on website forums, sent protest emails to Bravo and Zig Zag.

Mike was told by Zig Zag researcher Andrzej Narozanski in an email: "Following on from our conversation earlier, I would like to confirm that the reference between hooliganism and the Hillsborough disaster has been removed from the documentary. There is also no longer any footage of the tragedy included."

I received an email from Bravo press officer Jakki Lewis, who said the attached letter from director of programmes Jonathan Webb was "to both the Liverpool ECHO and your readers, whose complaints as a result of the article we have taken very seriously as a broadcaster".

Mr Webb says: "The version of the programme which was forwarded to Paddy Shennan several weeks ago was a first rough cut, with a guide voice over, meaning that the script had not yet been finalised, but a rough commentary had been included by the producers of the programme in order for the commissioners to be able to view the first cut of the programme in some kind of context, with a final script being agreed later and recorded for broadcast."

Several weeks ago? The DVD arrived at my home on April 29 - your letter is dated May 5.

He adds: "This programme has since gone through many revisions and changes for broadcast on May 18. Upon strict review, Bravo instructed the producers, Zig Zag Productions, to amend this voice over to reflect the correct position, i.e. that the Hillsborough disaster was not as a result of hooliganism.

"Whilst Paddy's article made it clear that the voice over was not final and that the version of the programme which he viewed was not complete, we wish to clarify that the inaccuracies in the guide voice over about the nature of the disaster at Hillsborough have been rectified for broadcast and apologise unreservedly for any offence or upset that the reporting of this guide voice over may have caused."

Interesting. Perhaps I'm being as stupid as the people who thought it a good idea to write that initial script, record it and let it be sent to a Liverpool journalist, but it seems that Bravo is apologising on the ECHO's behalf - because we had the nerve to highlight a deplorable mass libel.

Funny things apologies.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 10, 2006
Words:499
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