Sunday 16 August 2015

"There's a wideness in God's mercy/like the wideness of the sea"

Well, the controversial Songs of Praise from the illegal migrant encampment in Calais was broadcast tonight, and I suspect viewing figures will have been well up.

The two items ran as described in the previous post. 

In the first we heard from some of the migrants and from Giles Fraser (so, yes, he was on after all). Giles described the migrants as being his brothers and sisters but avoided making any explicitly political points. 

In the second items we heard from Christian volunteers from England and France who had come to help the migrants.

In fairness to presenter Sally Magnusson, she did mention that the camp (despite the programme's focus on the Christians there) was mostly Muslim and she did caveat the stories told by the migrants by saying that their stories couldn't be verified. She also asked several times how the migrants and their helpers could justify coming illegally to the UK. So some nods to BBC impartiality were made - though no dissenting voices were heard from (i.e. nobody opposing the actions of either the migrants or their helpers).

The social media reaction has divided predictably. For example, Twitter has gone one way (lauding the programme for showing compassion) and the comments beneath the Daily Mail's article on the story have gone the other (damning it for trying to brainwash its audience into sympathasing with illegal immigrants).

I have to say that the hymn which immediately followed the second of the two items didn't seem to have been accidentally/coincidentally chosen.

It began, "There's a wideness in God's mercy/like the wideness of the sea", and its words (written in Victorian times) carried echoes of the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean and the English Channel in its imagery as well as, more generally, chiming uncannily with the sentiments expressed by Giles Fraser and the Christian volunteers throughout both Songs of Praise items.

It wasn't a newly-recorded hymn either, just randomly included alongside this item in this particular edition of the programme. It was lifted from an earlier episode of Songs of Praise, first broadcast in February 2013.

So it was chosen from the Songs of Praise archive and placed exactly where it was in this edition by those involved in making today's programme. For a reason, I'd say.


  1. Don't give Sally Magnusson an easy ride - she is the key enabler for the passage of the lie.

  2. I think this is the straw that broke this camel's back. I have always been a supporter of the idea of an ad-free tax-based public broadcasting system.

    No more.

    They can't do this to us and expect to get no reaction.

    Time for the BBC to be taken to the knacker's yard.

    No reprieve from me, at least.

    This was a seriously bad move by the BBC.

  3. Good article exposing just how bogus the whole thing was:

  4. At risk of exposing my heathen nature, is it typical for Christian congregants to be segregated as they are in the image?

  5. And for all the women to be wearing headscarfs !

  6. Giles described the migrants as being his brothers and sisters but avoided making any explicitly political points.

    I'm sorry, but Fraser just doing that is an explicit political point. His very presence is a political issue, because he is an advocate for infusing Left-wing political ideology into religious thought. If what Damian Thompson says is true - that Fraser was involved in putting the production together - that's a blatant violation of the Charter.

    There is grace enough for thousands
    Of new worlds as great as this;
    There is room for fresh creations
    In that upper home of bliss.

    What a giveaway. I don't watch this show, so have to ask if it is normal, or at least not unusual, for them to stick in archive footage? I guess they had no choice this time because the 'congregants' apparently don't do hymns where they're from. Either way, they can't claim that there was no thought behind the choice. It appears as if the entire thing was manufactured from start to finish.

    The BBC is going to regret this. The funniest thing is that this is going to be another instance of top brass pushing their ideology and compromising the BBC, but the rank-and-file staff will suffer most for it.


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