Banning Panorama

The BBC, the Thatcher government, and secret intelligence on TV, 1980-81

Date and time: Wednesday 13 April, 5.30pm-7pm

Venue: 50 George Square Lecture Theatre

From June 1980 to February 1981, Margaret Thatcher’s government and the secret services made strenuous efforts to suppress or censor a BBC Panorama programme on the activities and accountability of Britain’s intelligence agencies. But why? And to what end? Was it merely a case of keeping secret intelligence secret, or does it speak to wider tensions between the government, broadcasters, and the clandestine world? Using declassified sources, BBC archives, and personal recollections, this lecture explores the intersections between the state, the public broadcaster, and espionage during the early 1980s, and contributes to our understanding of the role of secrecy and censorship during the Thatcher years.

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