back to top

J.K. Rowling Just Gave The Daily Express A Severe Smackdown Over "Songs Of Praise" Calais Controversy

When the BBC was attacked for broadcasting from a migrant camp, Rowling came to its aid.

Posted on

As you may know, the BBC's flagship religious affairs show, Songs of Praise, is planning to broadcast from a migrant camp in Calais on 16 August.

Yui Mok / PA WIRE

Worshippers attending an Ethiopian Orthodox church erected in the migrant camp known as "the New Jungle" in Calais, France.

The decision has proved controversial. Today's Daily Express described it as having received a "stinging backlash from licence payers who said it was out of touch and had its priorities wrong".

The newspaper went on to say the BBC has come "under attack for sympathising with an army of 5,000 migrants who will stop at nothing to sneak illegally into Britain" for broadcasting from the camp.

The paper said the corporation's decision to film in Calais was "political propaganda", adding: "There are many sides to the migration story but there is precious little sign of a Songs Of Praise being devoted to the lorry drivers who face both prosecution and intimidation daily."

Advertisement

But J.K. Rowling didn't have much time for the Express's treatment of the story.

Newspaper owned by man who got rich peddling pornography condemns the BBC for filming migrants singing hymns.

He currently owns two adult TV channels: Television X and Red Hot. Desmond is a billionaire and a perpetually controversial character.

His autobiography, published earlier this year, received five stars in the Daily Express.

The BBC has received support from some high-profile church members, including Giles Fraser, parish priest at St Mary's Newington.

Christians in Love Thy Neighbour scandal.

The right wing press keeps banging on about this being a Christian nation. But they hate it when it behaves like one. #SongsOfPraise

And Ruth Davidson MSP, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, who quoted Matthew 18:19-20 in support of the organisation.

Props to Sally Mag & all at the BBC Religious Progs Dept. "For where 2 or 3 gather in my name, there am I with them"

Yesterday an Eritrean priest at the camp told the Daily Mail that he planned to boycott the BBC's production, saying the corporation had not asked his permission to film and that it could endanger his family. The Mail in turn received criticism for publishing the priest's picture.

The BBC has yet to issue a statement on the ongoing controversy besides its initial one: "Songs Of Praise is a magazine style programme. Each week it brings hymns from churches around the UK and short topical magazine features of interest to Christians from a range of places."

Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Alan White at alan.white@buzzfeed.com.

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.