British television’s éminence grise Brian Lapping joins protest against a new film, and demands censorship allegations be removed.

27 August 2020 By Paul Martin

The makers of a world-renowned television series have called on a producer-presenter to slash substantial chunks of a new widely-publicised film that claims End of Empire’s Iran programme was censored by the British government or its spy agency.

The End of Empire series executive producer Brian Lapping has now entered the fray. He supports the producer and the researcher of the Iran programme in rejecting Taghi Amirani’s thesis that runs throughout his two-hour personal-view documentary Coup53.

It alleges that End of Empire was censored when it filmed an interview in 1985 with an MI6 spy Norman Darbyshire. (He died in 1993.)

“The implication in Coup 53 is that we were and still are party to a coverup/censorship in a broadcast documentary,” said the letter, sent by email and dated Tuesday 25 August 2020 at 12:17.

“Your documentary Coup 53 claims that End of Empire filmed an interview with the MI6 agent Norman Darbyshire that was censored by MI6 and disappeared. This is not true,” Lapping and two others directly involved in the film state in a letter to Amirani, seen by  

“There never was a filmed interview,” the letter insists. “The transcript you show in Coup53 is our off-the-record research briefing. We, the makers of the original End of Empire series, never filmed an interview with Darbyshire.”

It concludes: “We cannot allow these untruths about us and our work to go unchallenged.”

[The End of Empire film-makers have previously told that the off-the-record meeting with Darbyshire was recorded, but only on audio-tape that was not intended for broadcast.]

The letter demands the removal from Coup53 of “any suggestion of a filmed interview”, and sets a response deadline that expired at 6pm on Wednesday 27 August.

It does not specify what action (if any) the End of Empire producers would take if Amirani did not remove the ‘offending’ material.

Coup53 has been shown at film festivals and last week went out on general digital release. Amirani used the opportunity to widely publicise the allegations to which End of Empire has taken exception.

End of Empire, made in 1985 and broadcast on Britain’s Channel 4 and ITV (the country’s two top commercial channels) and screened worldwide, itself revealed heavy British involvement in a coup that toppled the Iranian prime minister Muhammad Mossadegh in 1953. Further revelations and admissions were made in US official documents and in a book about MI6 two decades ago.

Coup53’s only substantially new element was to broadcast an extract from a transcript in which the spy said he had been “involved” in the kidnap, but not the murder, of the Iranian police chief weeks before the coup.

However Coup53, in pre-release publicity, stated it had revelations that would turn history “inside out”.

So far no broadcaster in the UK has agreed to show Coup53, but it has received extensive publicity on Channel 4 News and on BBC radio, as well as in national newspapers.

In fact there have been no fewer than four films, plus open publications by the USA authorities, plus two key books, that revealed almost everything shown in Coup53, many years ago.