BBC Apology - 3. Emails linked to Summary

Tuesday, 30 December 2008 05:11
1

From: Tom Williams
Sent: 11 September 2008 12:24
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: FW: DOROTHY ROWE - BBC Radio Two documentary on why we believe in God

Dear Dorothy,

Please let me know if you are interested in participating in this discussion programme.  It should all be able to be done over the phone or at your house.

With best wishes,

Tom Williams
Aitken Alexander Associates,

From: Charlotte King-Manchester
Sent: 10 September 2008 17:51
To: Tom Williams
Subject: DOROTHY ROWE - BBC Radio Two documentary on why we believe in God

Dear Tom Williams,

I'm writing to ask whether Dorothy Rowe might be able to take part in a programme I'm setting up for BBC Radio Two. It's an hour-long documentary for Faith in the World Week - a week of special programmes exploring religious belief around the world, made by the BBC's Religion and Ethics department.

This documentary will ask where does religious faith come from and, in an age when secular voices tell us that scientific reason has replaced religion, why do so many of us still want to believe in God and search for faith? It'll be a fairly touchy-feely documentary with lots of music, as well as interviews with celebrities, experts (both those who support and object to religious belief) and ordinary people with interesting stories to tell about how and why God came into their lives.

I'd really like to record a short interview with Dorothy Rowe to hear her perspective on what it is about human nature that makes us want to search for or believe in a God. We're interested in tracing how advances in human psychology have had an impact on our views about religion. How much, for example, does our understanding of the subconscious make it easier to dismiss religious faith as no more than wish fulfillment? I've been reading Dorothy's book, What Should I Believe?, and I'm very keen for Dorothy to take part in our programme because I feel she'd be able to explain some complex ideas in a really engaging and accessible way.

If you think we might be able to arrange an interview with Dorothy I'd be keen to have a chat with her on the phone as early as possible just to go through what she'd most want to say. I was hoping there might be a time over the next week or two when she'd be in the UK and I could go and meet her to record the interview. The recording would take up no more than fifteen minutes of her time if I travelled to her. Although I'm based in Manchester I was hoping I could come down to London to do the recording ideally next Thursday of Friday (September 18th or 19th) or alternatively a colleague of mine could be in London any time on the week beginning Monday September 29th. If none of those dates were possible, or Dorothy won't be in the UK at those times, we could also talk about the possibility of finding a nearby radio studio for Dorothy so that she could record the interview down a line. Anyway, I'd be keen to talk to you about possibilities.

I do hope to hear from you soon.

All the best,

Charlotte King

Charlotte King
Researcher
Faith in the World Week
BBC Radio Two

2

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 11 September 2008 21:06
To: 'Charlotte King
Cc: Adrian Weston
Subject: your email

Dear Charlotte,

Last night I stayed at the splendid Ibis Hotel in Charles St, Manchester and this morning walked past BBC Manchester on my way to speak at a Hearing Voices conference. If only we’d both known that we needed to meet!

However, I’m now back in Highbury, London. On Thursday, the 18th I’m going to be at Bush House from 1.00 to about 2.00 to record an interview with Dan Damon for the World Service. If you could get a studio there we could record our interview, or I could leap into a cab and come to Broadcasting House. The following day I could tear myself away from the million and one things I need to do and get a cab to BH. Or you could come here.

I’ll be out tomorrow from 12.30 but I’ll be here over the weekend and next week. You can phone me on 020 xxxxxxxx

Your programme sounds very interesting – answering the question which Richard Dawkins refused to ask.

All the best,

Dorothy

3 September 18: DR to Broadcasting House for interview by John McCarthy, recorded by Charlotte K-M.
4

From: Charlotte King-Manchester
Sent: 22 September 2008 09:48
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: thanks and requests

Hi Dorothy,

Thank you so much for your time on Thursday. I thought the interview we recorded was excellent.

John's email address is xxxxxxxxxxx. I'm glad you two got on!

I'm sure we should be able to make you a copy of the recording but we're all very much up against it this week so please bear with us if it takes us a week or two.

The programme will be broadcast sometime in the week beginning Monday October 20th but I'm afraid I don't have the date yet.

Thanks very much and best wishes,

Charlotte

5

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 26 September 2008 14:21
To: 'Charlotte King-Manchester'
Subject: RE: thanks and requests

Dear Charlotte,

I’ve now written to John. I was so delighted to meet him. I followed the hostages in the Lebanon closely as the story unfolded.

I’ll look forward to getting a copy of our conversation in due course. Please do let me know when the documentary will be broadcast. Will it become a podcast? If it is, I’ll put a link to it from my website.

All best wishes,

Dorothy

6  

From: Tom Williams
Sent: 06 October 2008 16:34
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: FW: Dorothy Rowe: BBC Radio 2 with John McCarthy
Importance: High

From: Dawn Bryan
Sent: 06 October 2008 16:33
To: Tom Williams
Subject: Dorothy Rowe: BBC Radio 2 with John McCarthy
Importance: High

Hi Tom

We recorded and interview with Dorothy a couple of weeks ago for a programme called What Do You Believe with John McCarthy on BBC Radio 2. Having just listened through to it, there are some areas I'd like to cover again with Dorothy..I know its short notice but can I get her in to a studio tomorrow at some point..or later today?

many thanks

Dawn

Dawn Bryan
Producer
What Do You Believe?
BBC Radio 2

7

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 06 October 2008 16:53
To: 'dawn bryan
Subject: your email

Dear Dawn,

Further to my phone message, obviously I can’t manage anything now today. Tomorrow I have an interview and a photo shoot for the Telegraph but if you could provide a taxi both ways I could go to Broadcasting House between 4 and 5pm. Wednesday I have a discussion about Women’s Hour, and then to Beverley, back on Thursday. I’ll be at BH early Friday to talk to Women’s Hour.

My phone number is 020 xxxxxxxxxx

Dorothy

8 From: Dawn Bryan
Sent: 06 October 2008 17:01
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: your email

Great..Ill get something booked for 4 tomorrow then. Thanks so much..and sorry for the hassle!

Dawn Bryan
Producer
What Do You Believe?
BBC Radio 2

9

From: Kirsty Wither
Sent: 06 October 2008 17:36
To: dorothy
Cc: Dawn Bryan
Subject: Radio 4 Interview tomorrow

Dear Dorothy,

I have booked you into Studio GB in Western House tomorrow (Just next to Broadcasting House) If you go to reception they will show you the way to the studio.

The studio is booked between 16.00-16.30, so I have booked your taxi to pick you up at 15.15pm from xx (30mins to get to studio + 15 mins leeway time in case it is late - fingers crossed it won't be). The taxi details are as below:

The return taxi is booked for 16.30 from Western House back to your home address. If you have finished earlier and need the booking to come before the time then do feel free to give them a call and amend the time.

I hope this all fits in with your plans, do let me know if you need anything amending.

Best wishes,

Kirsty

Kirsty Wither
Broadcast Assistant
BBC Religion & Ethics

10 October 7: DR to BBC Weston House to talk down the line to Dawn Bryan.
11

To: 'Dawn Bryan'
Subject: RE: your email

Dear Dawn,

I forgot to ask you if you had a broadcast date?

Will it be available as a podcast?

My car was waiting at the door and I was home very quickly.

Dorothy

Dorothy Rowe 

12

Sent: 17 October 2008 10:37
To: 'Charlotte King-Manchester'
Subject: RE: broadcast

Will it be a podcast?

D

13

From: Charlotte King-Manchester  
Sent: 17 October 2008 10:31
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: broadcast

Hi Dorothy,

Yes I've just found out. It's next Tuesday - October 21st - at 10.30pm on BBC Radio Two.

Many thanks - and sorry we haven't had this information earlier.

All the best,

Charlotte


From: Dorothy Rowe  
Sent: 17 October 2008 10:46
To: 'Charlotte King-Manchester'
Subject: RE: broadcast

Many thanks,

Dorothy

From: Charlotte King-Manchester
Sent: 17 October 2008 10:39
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: broadcast

It won't be downloadable as a podcast but it will be available on 'listen again' from the Radio Two website for a week after the broadcast.

Charlotte

14
From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 23 October 2008 16:37
To: 'John McCarthy'
Subject: RE: tomorrow

Dear John,

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Alas, I can’t manage either the 6th or the 14th. On the 6th I’ll be on my way to Southwold for Ways with Words, and on the 14th I’m having lunch with my agent, Clare Alexander, and my editor at HarperCollins, Clare Reihill. It took at least 20 emails for the three of us to arrive at a date which suited all of us. I daren’t suggest a change. I leave for Sydney on December 11, so in case you and I cannot organise even half an hour together before then, I’d better ask you what I intended to ask you tomorrow.

Between them, Dawn, Charlotte and Kirsty arranged for me to be sent an unedited copy of our conversation. This arrived yesterday and I’ve been able to listen to it again. I wanted to hear again your description of the experience of feeling that you are being annihilated as a person when you feel that you are going to disappear like a wisp of smoke in the wind. I’ve heard many people describe this experience, but they have been people who tried to hold themselves together by creating a protective delusion. You and I spoke of how some people in this situation tell themselves that they are, in some way, the most powerful person in the universe. Doing this, they earn the psychiatric diagnosis of psychosis or schizophrenia. The much more common delusion is that of telling yourself that you are responsible for the disaster that has befallen you. You say to yourself, ‘If I had been a really good person this would not have happened to me.’ You turn again yourself and hate yourself, and thus create the prison of depression. I guess there were periods when you did tell yourself this, and so you had periods of depression, but you were not seduced by the protection the prison of depression gives from the chaos all around you. Many people are thus seduced, and they remain depressed, even for the rest of their life.

You’ll find in most of my books, but particularly Depression: The Way Out of Your Prison and Beyond Fear, that I have quoted what depressed or psychotic people have told me of their experience of annihilation. Everyone has this experience at least once in their life and most people survive without becoming psychotic or depressed, but most people doesn’t want to talk about it because they don’t want to be reminded of that fear. So it was an important experience for me to hear you describe how it’s possible to deal with that fear without resorting to delusion.

In the chaos of seeming to fall apart you looked for a still point in that chaos to hold on to. You didn’t have to create a fantasy of some still point that can be grabbed and hung on to. You thought of your family. They were real, not just in their existence but in their love and concern for you. (A number of my long-term, deeply disturbed clients have told me that it wasn’t my words of wisdom that helped them to change but that I had become a still, solid object that was always there, and around which they could successfully rebuild themselves.) Just as you felt the joy and calm of knowing that you could survive the means of doing so came to you.

Everything we do is based, at least in part, on our need to hold our sense of being a person together. Whatever topic I decide to write about – mental disorder, money, siblings, religion and so on – I begin the book with an account of how the sense of being a person comes about and how our greatest fear is that of being annihilated. I intended to ask you whether I could quote what you had told me in the book I’m working on now called Why We Lie. We lie in order to try to hold ourselves together. Why do you tell white lies? So that you don’t cause another person distress. Why is it important to you not to cause another person distress? Because the person won’t like you. Why is it important to you to be liked? You know that answer to that. I don’t need to put you in the book as an example of a liar – I’m spoiled for choice where that’s concerned, but to set out how wonderful and extraordinary we all are, if we had but the sense to see it. What I’m writing about is solidly based on the research results obtained by neuroscientists, matters which I try to describe as straightforwardly as possible.

Whenever I write about what a specific person has told me I always send what written to that person long before the MS goes to the publisher. It will be at least a year before I finish writing Why We Lie because the political scene has changed so much in the last few weeks.

All the best,

Dorothy

15 October 21: Programme ‘What I Believe?’ broadcast.
16

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 02 November 2008 15:29
To: David Barber
Subject: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear David Barber,

I have been advised to write to you about my being interviewed for the Radio 2 programme What Do You Believe? which was broadcast at 10.30pm on 21.10.08. Although I was interviewed at considerable length for this programme, I appeared very briefly in the broadcast programme, and in the second of my appearances my words had been edited so as to appear that I held views which are the opposite of my actual views.

I am a psychologist who is well known for my work on depression. My latest book What Should I Believe?, was published by Routledge on October 10. I have attached a press release about the book here. I wrote the book, first, as an answer to Richard Dawkins frequent rhetorical question, ‘Why do people believe such ridiculous things?, and, second, to show how many people create great misery for themselves by choosing to hold beliefs which do not lead to courage and optimism but which lead them to denigrate themselves and to feel frightened and guilty. Such beliefs play a major part in many people’s depression.

On 10 September, 2008, Charlotte King-Manchester wrote to my literary agent, Tom Williams at Aitken Alexander, to invite me to be interviewed for a documentary made by the BBC’s Religion and Ethics Department for Faith in the World Week. The heading on her email was ‘BBC Radio Two documentary on why we believe in God’ In her email she wrote,

Dear Tom Williams,

I'm writing to ask whether Dorothy Rowe might be able to take part in a programme I'm setting up for BBC Radio Two. It's an hour-long documentary for Faith in the World Week - a week of special programmes exploring religious belief around the world, made by the BBC's Religion and Ethics department.

This documentary will ask where does religious faith come from and, in an age when secular voices tell us that scientific reason has replaced religion, why do so many of us still want to believe in God and search for faith? It'll be a fairly touchy-feely documentary with lots of music, as well as interviews with celebrities, experts (both those who support and object to religious belief) and ordinary people with interesting stories to tell about how and why God came into their lives.

I'd really like to record a short interview with Dorothy Rowe to hear her perspective on what it is about human nature that makes us want to search for or believe in a God. We're interested in tracing how advances in human psychology have had an impact on our views about religion. How much, for example, does our understanding of the subconscious make it easier to dismiss religious faith as no more than wish fulfillment? I've been reading Dorothy's book, What Should I Believe?, and I'm very keen for Dorothy to take part in our programme because I feel she'd be able to explain some complex ideas in a really engaging and accessible way.

Charlotte arranged for me to go to Broadcasting House at 10.15am on September 18 to be interviewed by John McCarthy. This was a long interview, about an hour, in which I explained to John the direct connection between certain religious beliefs and severe mental distress. On October 6 Dawn Bryan, the producer of the programme contacted Tom Williams to say that she needed to ask me some further questions. I phoned her, and she arranged for me to go to Western House the following afternoon (October 7) to talk to her and answer several questions at some length.

Charlotte let me know that the programme would be broadcast on October 21. That was the night of my book launch, so I did not listen to the programme until the following day. I listened to it again a few days later, and then it vanished from the BBC website. Dawn Bryan very kindly sent me a copy of the unedited interview with John McCarthy, so I have record of what I actually said.

In the broadcast programme I appear, first, for 27 seconds, and second, for 67 seconds. In the first I am saying that I had no religious beliefs. In the second I am heard talking about how religious beliefs can give a structure to a person’s life. Edited as it is, it sounds like I am giving unqualified praise to religious belief. There is no mention of what I talked to John about at length, that religious belief can cause immense misery. I often summarise this with, ‘The Church keeps me in business.’

After listening to this for the second time I was surprised at how distressed I was. I did my first interview for the BBC in 1971, when I was interviewed about twins on Radio Sheffield. The number of interviews I have done since then must run into three figures. This is the first time I have been edited to say something the contrary to what I actually said. My distress showed me what great trust I had placed in the BBC, not just in its treatment of me but in all its broadcasts. Now I have to entertain a doubt. Moreover, I feel used and abused by the BBC’s Religion and Ethics Department.

I would appreciate it if you would look into this matter and let me know what you find.

Yours sincerely,

Dorothy Rowe

17

From: David Barber
Sent: 02 November 2008 16:31
To: dorothy
Cc: Christine Morgan
Subject: Re: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Can I suggest you put your complaint direct to the dept responsible for the programme's production. This is the BBC Religion and Ethics in Manchester. The head of dept is Christine Morgan. I have cc'd her this reply.

DB

18

From: Christine Morgan
Sent: 05 November 2008 10:50
To: dorothy
Subject: FW: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Dorothy,

I have read your complaint and regret very much that you feel distressed because of your participation in a programme made from this unit. 

As you suggest I shall look into this matter and, of course, let you know what I find.

Christine

Christine Morgan
Executive Producer, BBC Religion and Ethics
Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion

19

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 16 November 2008 15:05
To: 'Christine Morgan'
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Christine,

I shall be leaving for three months in Sydney on December 11. You'll be able to reach me on this email address.

Dorothy

20

From: Christine Morgan
Sent: 17 November 2008 11:50
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Dorothy Rowe,

We owe you an apology. I have looked into the matter you raised regarding the Radio 2 documentary 'What Do You Believe' . I have heard the programme and your contribution and have talked to the producer in detail about what was recorded and what was broadcast.

I am very concerned to find that, as you say, the programme did not accurately reflect the view you expressed. I was not aware of this situation before it was broadcast but I know this producer and her work well. She is very experienced and I can only say that it is a very uncharacteristic error on her part. She, too, is very concerned that her work has fallen short of the high editorial standards that the religion and ethics department expects from its production teams.

Please accept my apologies on behalf of the unit for the distress this has caused you. 

Yours,

Christine

Christine Morgan

Executive Producer
BBC Religion and Ethics

21

From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 18 November 2008 16:27
To: 'Christine Morgan'
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

 Dear Christine Morgan,

The apology you have given me is far from satisfactory.

An apology for my distress is not an apology. It is a refusal to accept responsibility for the injury inflicted.

The injury I have suffered is ongoing. I am not distressed. I am angry. Your producer, who I take to be Dawn Bryan, has broadcast what is, in effect, a lie about me. She has chosen to make me sound as if I believe that religion is valuable because it gives structure to a person’s life. She knew quite well that that was not what I was saying. Religion does give structure to many people’s lives, but it can be the kind of structure that Guantanamo gives to the lives of its inmates.

Nowadays, when something is broadcast, it does not disappear. It may disappear from the BBC website, but it goes into other websites, other recordings, and into the memories of those who heard it. In my everyday life I am constantly being told by people I have never met or have met only once that I had said such and such. I am quoted in other people’s writings. What your unit has done is to put into the general domain something about me which is untrue. I do not want an apology. I want you to put on permanent record that what was broadcast was not what I said.

If you are prepared to put on permanent record, say, a page on the BBC website which sets out how I have been misrepresented and what I actually said, and to which I can refer those people who have accepted your unit’s lie as the truth about me, then, and only then, will I consider this matter closed.

Yours sincerely,

Dorothy Rowe

22

From: Amanda Hancox
Sent: 19 November 2008 11:13
To: dorothy
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Dorothy Rowe

Thank you for your response to Christine Morgan's e-mail. Unfortunately she is away on leave until next week. However, I will alert her to your e-mail as soon as she is back and I am sure she will respond as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Hancox
Series Producer
BBC Religion and Ethics

23 From: Christine Morgan
Sent: 28 November 2008 14:35
To: Dorothy Rowe
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Dorothy Rowe,

I am keen to ensure that we deal with your complaint to your satisfaction and I have had discussions with the Head of Religion and Ethics and our on-line team to discuss how we can do that. As this is our editorial responsibility we are going to take up your suggestion to create a page on the Religion & Ethics website which will contain an edited version of your interview with John McCarthy to ensure the extended text and meaning of the original comments are clear.  We also discussed whether you would be interested in writing an article to accompany it which explained further your views on atheism and religion or perhaps combined with something on your professional field of psychology. Would you be interested in this option? It's our attempt to provide a context given that 'What Do You Believe' was a one-off programme which broadcast well over a month ago and is no longer available on BBC websites. We would then include a clear disclaimer at the bottom which clearly references the documentary by name and then proceeds along the lines of:

"Please note that this programme included two extracts from an interview with psychologist and novelist Dorothy Rowe which misrepresented her views on religion, making it sound like she gave unqualified praise to religious beliefs, when in fact her point was that religious belief can cause immense misery".

I hope you will feel this is a comprehensive way of dealing with your substantive complaint and go some way to addressing the anger you speak of.

I look forward to hearing from you. If you wish to discuss this please feel free to call me.

Yours,

Christine

Christine Morgan
Executive Producer, Religion and Ethics
Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion

24 From: Dorothy Rowe
Sent: 30 November 2008 17:18
To: 'Christine Morgan'
Subject: RE: Radio 2 What Do You Believe? 21.10.08

Dear Christine,

That is an excellent suggestion.

In the interview with John I talked about some of the immense misery that religious beliefs can cause people. As part of setting out the context for that interview, I'd like to write an article about how we operate as human beings. This is science, a part of science about which most people, including people who regard themselves as being well educated, don't understand. If you don't understand this, you are incapable of understanding yourself and other people. What we need to know is that the way our brains operate means that what determines our behaviour isn't what happens to us but how we interpret what happens to us. I state this is psychological terms, and neuroscientists say the same thing in their terms. Most religious people don't understand this, and many scientists don't understand either. The Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and the arch-militant atheist Richard Dawkins don't understand this. If they did understand it, they would be talking in terms of alternative interpretations of the nature of death and the purpose of life and the consequences of these interpretations, instead of talking in terms of what is, as neuroscience has shown, an impossibility, the possession of an absolute truth.

My article would be no longer than 1200 words.

I usually refer to myself as being a psychologist and writer. A link to my website would allow those who are interested to learn more about my work.

Would you let me see the website page before it goes up, and to hear the abridged version of the interview. I leave for Sydney on December 11.

Best wishes,

Dorothy

25 December 8th: Page on the BBC Website goes live.
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