UK Markets closed

BBC sets up form for complaints about Prince Philip coverage - as viewers turn off

Rebecca Taylor
·Royal Correspondent
·3-min read

Watch: Prince Philip death: The Duke of Edinburgh dies, aged 99

The BBC was forced to set up a special complaints form as it was inundated with messages about its wall-to-wall coverage of the death of Prince Philip.

Regular programming was interrupted across BBC channels on TV and BBC radio stations when Buckingham Palace announced the death of the Duke of Edinburgh at midday on Friday.

Instead of scheduled shows, hours of television which presenters would have been rehearsing for many years was aired, with royal experts and friends of the duke paying tribute to him.

However the changes did not go down well with all viewers, and the BBC had so many complaints, it set up a form on its website to allow people to register their frustration particularly on their coverage.

The form explains: "We're receiving complaints about too much TV coverage of the death of HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

"Please enter your email address below to register a complaint about this - we'll then send you the BBC's response as soon as it is available."

The BBC had to streamline the form for complaints on the coverage. (BBC)
The BBC had to streamline the form for complaints on the coverage. (BBC)

Read more: TV schedules changed after the death of Prince Philip

Jim Waterson, The Guardian's media editor, tweeted: "The BBC, having adopted wall-to-wall Prince Philip coverage to avoid being criticised in parts of the media and politics.... has now received so many complaints about their wall-to-wall coverage they’ve set up a streamlined form to complain about it."

The BBC has been contacted for comment.

Early statistics on viewer figures suggest the continued coverage of the death meant people tuned out, with all the main channels down week on week compared to 2 April.

BBC1, which would have aired the MasterChef final on Friday evening, was down 6% compared to the week before, while BBC2 was down 65%.

ITV was down 60% and Channel 4 was down 8.5%, according to Deadline editor Jake Kanter.

Kanter also said the most watched programme was Gogglebox on Channel 4, which had nearly 4.2m viewers.

Watch: Prince Philip dies: Duke of Edinburgh served Queen and country

Read more: What the Queen, Diana, Harry and other royals have said about Prince Philip

On social media, MasterChef was trending on Twitter as fans decried missing the final after weeks of watching amateur cooks attempt to impress judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.

Broadcaster Maia Dunphy tweeted: "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."

Comedian Mark Watson said: "I understand why the BBC has to do this but it’s a funny old country where a 99-year-old man dies and as a result the nation may not watch people competing to cook lamb shanks."

Former BBC presenter Simon McCoy, who left to join GB News, tweeted: "BBC1 and BBC2 showing the same thing. And presumably the News Channel too. Why? I know this is a huge event. But surely the public deserve a choice of programming?”

A digital tribute of Prince Phillip is displayed in Piccadilly Circus  following the announcement of the death of The Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh at the age of 99 on Friday 9th April 2021. (Photo by Tejas Sandhu/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
A digital tribute of Prince Phillip in Piccadilly Circus. (Tejas Sandhu/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

On Friday, a BBC spokesperson told Yahoo: "With the sad news that HRH Prince Philip, The Duke of Edinburgh, has died, there is now special coverage across all BBC networks to mark his life of extraordinary public service and planned scheduling has been suspended."

BBC suspended its Friday night coverage to air mirrored special programmes, while BBC Four was suspended.

ITV also made changes which led to an extended News at 10.

But Channel 4 aired an obituary programme at 4pm and featured an extended 90-minute news broadcast at 7pm before going back to scheduled programming, including the final of The Circle.

Adjusted programmes continue on Saturday on the BBC, with Saturday Kitchen Live and Football Focus moved to BBC2.

Watch: People continue to pay tribute to Prince Philip at Windsor