By Dr. Hans Roskam, Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL), University of Leiden and Dr. Gerdien de Jong, Evolutionary Population Biology, University of Utrecht.
Dutch biologists are in great turmoil due to the censorship of BBC nature documentaries by the Dutch Evangelische Omroep (Evangelical Broadcasting, EO), a fundamentalist Christian public broadcasting company. As a fundamentalist Christian organisation inspired by the word of God as revealed in the literal text of the Bible, the EO denies all science that falsifies this literal text.
Consequently, all references to evolution, speciation, descent and millions of years are removed from BBC documentaries as broadcasted by the EO. BBC documentaries are ‘neutralized’, that is, non-offending to creationist views by replacing spoken English text by an intentionally falsely translated spoken Dutch text, or by cutting whole scenes. Nevertheless, the documentaries are presented to the Dutch public as BBC documentaries. For instance, the EO DVD “Het Leven van Zoogdieren”, their censored version of Sir David Attenborough’s “The Life of Mammals” is explicitly presented as “written and presented by David Attenborough”, despite its many deviations and sins of omission.
The EO is an accredited public broadcasting society under Dutch broadcasting law. As a consequence, it is impossible for third parties to influence the text of broadcast documentaries. Only the copyright holders, that is, the makers of BBC documentaries and the BBC as producer, can contractually forbid the EO to tamper with the documentaries’ integrity.
When this censorship of BBC documentaries by the EO was published in the newspapers in the Netherlands and Belgium, journalists asked the BBC what the BBC’s attitude would be. A BBC Worldwide spokesman said that on translation, there would always be differences and that anyone could think about it whatever they want.
For biologists, the theory of evolution is the overarching paradigm; evolution is a fact. Over 400 persons (September 26, 2007), mainly biologists, amongst whom more than 50 full university professors, are alarmed by and opposed to EO censorship. They express their concern by endorsing the following petition addressed to the BBC, the producer and copyright holder of the nature programmes.
“Dutch biologists hold in high regard the many BBC produced nature documentaries, an excellent example being Sir David Attenborough’s ‘The Life of Mammals’. However, we feel obliged to inform the BBC that the Dutch ‘Evangelische Omroep’, a religious public broadcasting society, manipulates series broadcast under BBC flag. Recently, the ‘Evangelische Omroep’ broadcasted the ‘The Life of Mammals’ series in a mutilated form, cutting or rephrasing all passages relevant to evolution, since these contradict their fundamentalist religious creationist views.
“The Dutch community of biologists urgently requests the BBC either to insist in future contracts on the complete broadcasting of their programmes by Dutch broadcasting companies, or obliging such companies to warn their audience by explicitly announcing manipulations at the beginning of the programmes”
Documentation can be found at
Life of Mammals creationist version 1 cuts in episode 1
Life of Mammals creationist version 2 cuts in episode 2
Life of Mammals creationist version 3 episode 10 missing