In 1980 the BBC’s documentary series Panorama began developing an episode on British intelligence. This was the first of its kind, at least by such a prominent and respected series, but both the central government and the intelligence agencies were not happy. Over a period of several months they put pressure on the BBC, trying to stop the programme from being broadcast. When this failed they considered using the government veto to prevent it from airing, and ultimately ended up heavily censoring the documentary via a secret preview screening with MI5.
In the summer of 1980 the BBC’s flagship documentary series Panorama was developing a TV special about British intelligence. This was the first film of its kind, and perhaps unsurprisingly Thatcher’s government was not happy about it. Downing Street put pressure on the film-makers via BBC Director-General Ian Threthowan, and an MI5 lawyer previewed the film and provided detailed feedback on what to remove.
I recently acquired some decades-old Pentagon directives and instructions. These documents formed the basis for DOD policy in their engagement with the entertainment industry, establishing a range of conflicting criteria for the military’s liaisons with film and TV producers. This provided them with a range of bases for altering scripts and censoring scenes, at a time when the MPAA and the Production Code were ceasing to be effective at keeping the movie industry in line with their propaganda objectives.
It is with some pride that I can announce that the American Journal of Economics and Sociology has today published an edition featuring not just one, not just one and a half but two articles that I wrote. The latest issue of AJES focuses on the role of the CIA and DOD in Hollywood and includes articles by Pearse Redmond, Aaron Franz, Tarzie and others.