Friday, 24 February 2012

Creative Latitude - If this doesn't get you talking.....i don't know what will!

Rowan Atkinson has hit the headlines today with his views on a TV ageism row involving the BBC and Miriam O'Reilly. O'Reilly won her employment tribunal after taking the BBC to court after claiming she had been unfairly dismissed as host of Country File because of her age.

 'Writing to BBC Radio 4's Media Show, Atkinson said creative industries were "completely inappropriate environments for anti-discrimination legislation" ' (,24/2/12)

 "And as with any creative construct, whether it's a BBC factual television programme or a film or an oil painting, if creative freedom means anything, it is having complete creative latitude to include or exclude anybody or anything for any reason." Rowan Atkinson (,24/2/12)

This article has already sparked huge interest this morning on the BBC's websites with comments and views that are worth a look. Follow the link below!


  1. I don't very much about this case, but it seems to me that Miriam is making a big deal about nothing. Has it even crossed her mind that perhaps the reason for her dismissal was not due to her age but more due to the fact that she was not fulfilling the role to the extent BBC bosses were happy with? Personally, what keeps things interesting is change, particularly on tv. By this, I don't mean constant change, but every so often it works to refresh the programme by incorporating new personalities. Is Miriam O'Reilly really that bothered if she is so heavily involved in other projects? Bex

  2. As much as it is the case that there must be freedom within the creative industries, is the BBC really a creative industry? Its government owned and funded by the public and therefore is bound by the legislation that is stated in law. If it were a private firm then Atkinson's point might have more validity. Also she was a news reporter, how far is that a creative industry and how far is it supposed to be a factual rational explanation of the events that affect the world.

  3. I think it's very simple, as sandy points out -- the BBC is a government funded organization and thus not wholly apart of the creative industries. If this had occurred on ITV (a self-funded network), for instance, then that's another story. It's outrageous, in my opinion, to discriminate against someone for any reason, but for Rowan Atkinson to flat out assert his stance as being the end all be all is absurd. The BBC is government-funded and thus should fall under government rules and guidelines.

  4. My views have being formed on this case by the outcome of her court case which stated she was dismissed for being "too old". I don't know the real reason but taking it to be her age and gender.....

    What on earth is Atkinson talking about!!! Now I like blackadder as much as the next person but saying the creative industries shouldn't be bound by discrimination rules seems madness!

    Older women are disproportionally represented in media as a whole. This reinforces negative female stereotypes, as young, beautiful creatures who disappear from society after the sell by date of c. 35 years (maybe another 5 with botox).

    If Atkinson had directed his comments against someone who had being dismissed for their ethnicity, disability or nationality there would be an outcry. The creative industries should be flying the flag for equality and inclusion not trying to return us to the dark ages.

  5. This is quite heavy going but an interesting article about the marginalisation of women in society except where they fit with the ideals and norms of that society.

  6. I agree with Atkinson, creative freedom has to be having ‘complete creative latitude to include or exclude anybody or anything for any reason’ (Atkinson, R. It is like giving a creative individual a box of coloured crayons yet only allowing him/her to use the red and blue crayons! A creative individual has so many tools, skills and ideas at his or her disposal so restricting them is only going to diminish their ability to create to the best of their ability.

    The BBC is however a slight conundrum for me on the topic of creativity because it is government owned and funded by the public – already placing restrictions on its freedom. I am unsure how creative the BBC can really be despite agreeing with the principle of Atkinson’s comments. I think Atkinson has seized the opportunity to highlight an issue regarding creative freedom which is widespread, extending beyond the BBC.

    This also in a way relates back to the comment i made on my ‘In Times of Leadership’ post regarding employment law and the need for a shake up. As i stated there many organisations are terrified to fire staff because they fear the words ‘un-fair dismissal’ or ‘discrimination’. Employees who are fired or made redundant etc. are always ever so quick to point the finger in anger, claim injustice and i agree there will be times when injustice is done however employees need to take a step into the shoes of the organisation and consider that perhaps (as Bex commented) ‘the reason for her dismissal was not due to her age but more due to the fact that she was not fulfilling the role to the extent BBC bosses were happy with? (Missing Croft, 24/2/12).