Facebook post about BBC footage of Boris Johnson being booed is misleading

7 June 2022
What was claimed

The BBC edited the arrival of Boris and Carrie Johnson arriving at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations to replace loud boos with “generic audio”.

Our verdict

The difference in audio between two clips shown by BBC News is due to the fact they were recorded by different crews. The “generic audio” comprised a live interview with royal experts, and also audio captured at the time of Mr and Mrs Johnson’s arrival recorded by a different crew.

What was claimed

Every version of the footage of the Johnsons’ arrival broadcast since has been the “edited version”.

Our verdict

The BBC has replayed the original footage, with more audible booing, on more than one occasion.

A post on Facebook, viewed more than 73,000 times, claims that the BBC edited footage of Boris and Carrie Johnson arriving at St Paul’s Cathedral for part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations to replace the sound of booing crowds with “generic audio” about the royal family. 

Part of the video’s caption states: “In a move worth [sic] of the North Korean State Broadcaster, the BBC have cut the audio of the live sound, removed the live commentary that mentions the booing, and cut some generic audio about the Queen meeting Lilibeth [sic] over the top of it all to make it appear as though the PM arrived without incidence [sic].”

The post also claims: “While they couldn’t stop the Live version being aired, every version that has been aired of the PMs arrival since, has been the edited version. Commentators after the live event, like Dimbleby, have not mentioned the booing.”

This is misleading. We have recently written about very similar claims which were shared thousands of times on Twitter and use the same footage to make their point. 

Why was there a difference between the clips?

Two clips, broadcast at 10.40am and 10.43am respectively by the BBC News channel on 3 June, have been used as apparent evidence of the BBC “censoring” the sound of the crowd booing as Mr and Mrs Johnson arrived at St Paul’s Cathedral for the Jubilee thanksgiving service. 

In the first clip, which is taken from the live broadcast, booing can be heard very clearly as the couple ascend the steps to St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Presenter Jane Hill, who was in the process of interviewing author Catherine Butcher and royal historian Professor Anna Whitelock, interrupts the interview to note: “There is really quite a lot of booing actually, a substantial amount. Didn’t see that coming—that’s quite a moment.” 

Minutes later BBC News showed the same clip of Mr and Mrs Johnson’s arrival. However the audio is different with the booing much less clear. 

This difference has been used to claim that the BBC had edited the sound to cast Mr and Mrs Johnson’s arrival in a more positive light. 

But the BBC has since explained that the disparity between the sound in the clips is down to the fact they were recorded by different crews—not because they were deliberately manipulated. 

A spokesperson for the BBC told Full Fact: “The BBC did not change or edit the sound on any of its recordings yesterday and its coverage clearly demonstrated the crowd’s reaction to the Prime Minister’s arrival.

“As is standard for an event of this nature, there were a number of different crews filming. Jane Hill was filmed commentating live on the arrivals at the service and the crowd’s reaction. 

“Other BBC coverage used a ‘clean feed’ of the arrivals, that is, sound and pictures from another crew which did not have commentary on top.”

This has also been corroborated by accounts of sound engineers on social media

The “generic audio” referred to in the Facebook post is in fact the continuing live interview with royal experts, which was cut with earlier footage of the Johnsons’ arrival and audio recorded by the other crew. If the BBC had used the audio heard at 10.40am with more prominent booing, from the crew with Ms Hill, her voice would have clashed with those in the interview, as demonstrated in our video explainer

BBC have not ‘only shown the edited version’

The post also claims that the BBC has since only shown the “edited” version of the clip, and not mentioned the booing at all. 

This is demonstrably untrue. For example, on 6 June BBC Breakfast host Jon Kay played a clip of Mr and Mrs Johnson being booed to health secretary Sajid Javid during a live interview, describing: “A few cheers, but an awful lot of boos.” 

To give another example, the clip was also played on Sunday Morning, the BBC’s weekly politics programme hosted by Sophie Raworth, during an interview with transport secretary Grant Shapps in which she asked: “There were people booing—why do you think they did that?” 

Update 10 June 2022

We have updated this article to more clearly describe the audio played during the second showing of the clip of the Johnsons arriving at the ceremony.

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