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BBC cut Siobhan McSweeney’s comments about ‘stupid’ government from Bafta TV awards broadcast

Siobhan McSweeney’s condemnation of the government was cut from the BBC One broadcast of her acceptance speech at the Bafta TV Awards last night (14 May).

The Derry Girls star, 43, won the Female Performance in a Comedy prize for her turn as the sharp-tongued Sister Michael in the Channel 4 comedy, which is set during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

In her speech, she thanked her family and the show’s creator Lisa McGee. The actor also called out the government – but these comments did not make it onto the BBC One broadcast of the ceremony.

Sharing footage of McSweeney’s speech on the Bafta YouTube channel, alongside a clip from the BBC’s coverage, Twitter user @OhHeyJacob wrote: “What actually happened vs what the BBC aired. Tell me again how the BBC is unbiased? Why have they cut that out?”

In the BBC broadcast, McSweeney says: “To the people of Derry – thank you for taking me into your hearts and your living rooms.”

At this point, in the BBC version, it cuts straight to the end of her speech, with the actor saying: “Thank you so much.”

But in the unedited version, McSweeney is heard saying: “I am, daily, impressed with how you encompassed the spirit of compromise and resilience, despite the indignities, ignorance and stupidity of your so-called leaders in Dublin, Stormont and Westminster.

“In the words of my beloved Sister Michael, ‘It’s time they started to wise up.’”

Her words were met with rapturous cheers and applause from the crowd at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

The Independent has contacted representatives of McSweeney for comment.

In a statement to The Independent, a BBC spokesperson said: “As in previous years, due to the nature of the show it is broadcast with a short delay, and while we always aim to keep the core sentiment of acceptance speeches, edits have to be made due to time constraints.”

While the live event is three hours long, it has to be reduced to two hours for its TV slot. Numerous other speeches on the night were cut to ensure the programme was delivered to time.

Many Twitter users have accused the BBC of censorship over the edit, an ironic development given that Bafta TV hosts Rob Beckett and Romesh Ranganathan had a long-running skit throughout the ceremony about the BBC’s obligation, as a public service broadcaster, to remain “balanced”.

The BBC has been embroiled in numerous impartiality rows in recent months. Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker was briefly told to step back from the show earlier this year over criticisms he made of the Tory policy on asylum-seekers. The move sparked a crisis in BBC sports programming as his fellow presenters, pundits and commentators staged a boycott in solidarity.

Then last month, BBC chairman Richard Sharp resigned after breaking rules over dealings with Boris Johnson ahead of his appointment.

Find the full list of winners at last night’s Bafta TV awards here, and all the biggest talking points here.