BBC receives 109,741 complaints over Prince Philip coverage

The BBC has confirmed it received 109,741 complaints from the public over its coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

The corporation cleared its schedules to cover the news when Prince Philip died on Friday, at the age of 99.

EastEnders and the MasterChef final were replaced by news programmes, while BBC Four was taken off air completely.

The BBC said it was “a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally”.

It added: “We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given, and impact this had on the billed TV and Radio schedules.

“We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster, during moments of national significance.

“We are grateful for all feedback, and we always listen to the response from our audiences.”

The corporation’s fortnightly complaints report was published on Thursday.

The figure makes the coverage of Prince Philip’s death the most complained-about piece of programming in BBC history.

BC One moved the MasterChef final to 14 April, so viewers were then able to find out who had won the amateur cookery series hosted by hosts Gregg Wallace and John Torode.

Other programmes that have previously attracted a high volume of correspondence included the broadcast of Jerry Springer: The Opera, which received 63,000 complaints in 2005; and Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand’s prank call to actor Andrew Sachs, which drew 42,000 complaints in 2008.

The BBC was not alone in adjusting its schedule to reflect Prince Philip’s death, with ITV and Channel 4 both broadcasting extended news coverage.

However, many viewers turned away as the day wore on, with ITV’s Friday night audience declining by 60% in comparison to the previous week, according to overnight figures.

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