BBC Countryfile subtitles 'insult' to Derry blacksmith

BBC Countryfile subtitles 'insult' to Derry blacksmith

THE Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein have united in their criticism of the BBC for subtitling a Derry-native featured in an episode of Countryfile.

Both parties claim Britain’s national broadcaster “insulted” blacksmith Barry Devlin - and the people of Derry - when they subtitled his interview, aired last week.

The 96-year-old, a native of Castledawson, was the inspiration behind Seamus Heaney’s poem The Forge and was interviewed on his experience of the Nobel laureate for the programme, which was first aired in August but repeated on Monday, November 17.

Angry viewers have since contacted Sinn Fein MP for the area Francie Molloy, who has lodged an official complaint with the broadcaster.

"I think this is part of an ongoing process by the BBC of insulting the Irish people both in culture and language, in this occasion putting subtitles over the voice,” he said.

“The subtitles were only coming up for Barney and in other episodes of the programme, which covers different parts of the country, indeed the world, it's very seldom that you do see subtitles being used. Seamus Heaney was from the same part of the country and he was never subtitled.”

He added: “The people of south Derry have complained to us so we're passing that on to the BBC."

The DUP have reacted similarly, with MLA Peter Weir claiming: “The use of subtitles was both unnecessary and somewhat insulting.”

He added: “I sometimes see Countryfile and I can’t remember another occasion, despite the wide range of accents you hear in the United Kingdom, that I saw somebody subtitled. Somebody at the BBC has acted in a slightly patronising and unnecessary way.’

A spokesperson for BBC Countryfile has since responded to its critics, claiming Mr Devlin had consented to the subtitling.

"No offence was intended,” they said.

“We wanted as wide an audience as possible to appreciate Barney Devlin's evocative memories of blacksmithing and of Seamus Heaney. We discussed with Mr Devlin using subtitles and he was happy for this to happen."