The BBC and producer Simon Dickson explain the difficult editorial decisions behind the broadcast of the final moments of terrorist Khalid Masood
Tuesday’s gripping first episode of the new series of Hospital showed the moment Westminster Bridge terrorist Khalid Masood arrived at the St Mary’s Paddington A&E department following his deadly assault on 22 March.
The BBC had already been filming at the hospital for three days when the terror attack took place, meaning producers were uniquely placed to document the A&E department’s response to the crisis.
Not only that, the first patient to arrive was the attacker himself, carried in to A&E on a hospital trolley and accompanied by a number of armed policemen.
None of the production team are comfortable talking in terms of good fortune about being there for that moment, but, as RadioTimes.com first revealed last month, the timing is still astonishing.
In the documentary, Masood is taken for treatment and we see him lying semi-naked on a hospital bed. A member of the medical team then emerges to say he is “RIP” – the body is taken to the mortuary under police guard, the face blurred.
In factual series, the decisions about what should and should not be broadcast and how consent is obtained are vital considerations for filmmakers – even more so when the subject involves members of the public who are critically ill.
The production team says that it followed exactly the same protocol for Masood as it would for any patient when it comes to securing consent for them to be featured.
Masood was apparently unconscious at the time he was filmed according to the producers, and the rules are clear.
“The decision was made to treat him in exactly the same way from the point of view of the hospital,” BBC2 controller Patrick Holland told RadioTimes.com. “That’s how we are seeing this. He is the first casualty that comes to the hospital and we follow the same protocol as we do with any other patient, which is if they don’t consent you blur them.”
Executive producer Simon Dickson added: “He’s part of the story and his appearance on the film is as you see it; it’s brief but his arrival is a key part of the day and that is fully reflected in the way that scene is handled.”