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Arts / BBC unable to broadcast radio play on domestic abuse

The cast of Pollyanna Paradox performed by Islesburgh Drama Group at Mareel: (L-R) Kevin Briggs (Charles), Lorraine Peterson (Sophie), Lesley Leslie (Agnes), Amber Thomson (Charlie), David Smith (Bobby), Karen Erasmuson (Voice of Creation), and Lynsey Rendall (Polly).

A PLANNED broadcast of an audio play telling the story of a survivor of domestic abuse has been pulled from BBC Radio Shetland’s schedule tonight (Thursday) due to its “strong adult content and sexual language”.

The hour-long broadcast of Pollyanna Paradox, recorded during a live performance at Mareel last Friday, will now be available on Shetland Arts’ YouTube channel at 6pm tonight.

Editors at BBC Shetland as well as BBC Scotland took the decision to remove two key scenes in order to be compliant with the national broadcaster’s regulations for a 6pm broadcast.

The move has not been acceptable to director Stephenie Georgia, Islesburgh Drama Group and local groups supporting women who have been the victim of gender based violence.

In a joint statement Georgia, Shetland Women’s Aid, The Compass Centre, Islesburgh Drama Group and Shetland Arts said that with agreement of BBC Radio Shetland they had agreed not to go ahead with the planned broadcast.

 “Unfortunately, after listening to the changes which have been made, we believe that the integrity of this play has been compromised and it is no longer an accurate representation of the survivors’ voices who supported the creation of this work,” the statement read.

“For this reason, with the agreement and support of the BBC Radio Shetland team, we have decided not to go ahead with the planned radio broadcast tonight.”

Radio Shetland editor John Johnston said: “BBC Radio Shetland wasn’t able to broadcast the play in full in the early evening because of the strong adult content and sexual language used in some of the dialogue. 

“We edited a version which would have complied with the BBC’s editorial guidelines, but this wasn’t acceptable to the play’s producer. 

“BBC Radio Shetland has worked closely with Islesburgh Drama Group to broadcast a number of radio dramas which have been very popular with our listeners and we hope to do so again.”

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Pollyanna Paradox will be broadcast in full by Shetland Arts on its YouTube channel and its podcast channel at 6pm tonight (Thursday 1 December).

The group’s statement continued: “We hope you will join us, listen in, and share this important work far and wide to support the end of gender-based violence. 

“It is imperative that women’s lived experiences and voices are not silenced, and that we all check our bias, knowledge, and understanding to enable necessary change in our culture. Together, we can work towards a better future for everyone.”

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