Why correspondent.world cares about an apparently false claim of a filmed interview that never existed.

8 September 2020 By Paul Martin

The controversy over a filmed interview-that-never-was had been first uncovered in correspondent.world, and then in the esteeemed journalists’ specialist website The Press Gazette. Its headline and story is here:
Granada producers hit back over censorship claims made in …pressgazette.co.uk › granada-producers-hit-back-over-c…

A series of further revelations has followed in correspondent.world, and a number of heavyweight producers are weighing in. The Guardian’s website has issued a partial withdrawal of its fawning film review, but Channel 4 News has remained silent.

The reason correspondent.wiorld has taken up this story is: we reject the form of film-making, documentary production or journalism that tarts out with a thesis and then tries then to fit any fact (or allegation or partial information or indeed total fiction) into that thesis.

Coup53 is a superb example of a film-maker going further and further down a blind alley, without ever letting increasingly obvious inconventient fact lead him to make a screeching halt, or indeed to perform a U-turn.

There is a full 20-minute segment in Coup53 where presnter-producer-director Taghi Amirani pursues this false trail.

“If Taghi had just told me the line he was following I could immediately have put him right,” says his former colleague at Thames Television, the researcher Alison Rooper. “And he could still have made an interesting and relevant film without all this falsehood.”

Veteran world-renowned producers Brian Lapping and Norma Percy also signed a demand that Amirani remove all parts of Coup53 where he asserts or implies that a filmed interview was made with a former MI6 agent Norman Darbyshire, and then suppressed prior to broadcast in 1985.

So far there has been a stonewalling reply by email from Amirani, but no indication of whether Amirani will slash a film he has already had shown in various film festivals and at a much-publicised digial launch last month.

Legal action may yet follow if he does not.

The Guardian online has partially withdrawn Amirani’s claims (reflected in its print editions first in The Observer), but that Addendum has been somewhat ambiguous about whether it is admittting that no interview with the MI6 agent was actually filmed.

It reads: “This article was amended on 27 August 2020 to make clear that the suggestion UK authorities intervened to “cut” the Norman Darbyshire interview is the conclusion drawn by Coup 53; the producers of End of Empire maintain it was never intended for the MI6 agent to appear on camera.

Just as troubling is the way the media simply accepted (without challenge or examination) the film-maker’s claim that Coup53 was coming with new revelations that would turn history “inside out”.

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.

One of the films, a series on Oil, even shows another MI6 officer who admits involvement by Britain in the coup at 36 minutes 58 seconds into Part Two, and Oil goes on to tell an accurate story of British involvement in that coup.

All of which leads to a troubling question: why do serious newspapers and broadcasters not themselves take steps to check a film or report’s authenticity before publishing?

Surely that’s a rather important question for us all.

Press Gazette

Granada producers hit back over censorship claims made in documentary about overthrow of Iranian PM Coup 53

By Paul Martin



The producers of the major Granada Television series End of Empire, first shown on Channel 4 in 1985, have adamantly rejected claims that they were pressured into withdrawing an interview they had filmed with an MI6 agent.

Taghi Amirani made the claims in his documentary feature film Coup 53, digitally premiered this week and featuring actor Ralph Feinnes , about the British role in a coup d’etat that overthrew the prime minister of Iran in 1953.  He insists that the End of Empire producers had been obliged, though an MI6 intervention, to remove MI6 spy Norman Darbyshire from the final cut of their film about Iran.

However,  End of Empire director Mark Anderson and researcher Alison Rooper deny they ever filmed an interview with Darbyshire. They say there was only an audio-tape made of an off-the-record briefing, and they had later tried but failed to get Darbyshire to go on camera.Rooper told the Press Gazette: “It’s admirable that Taghi has made a new version of the story with more time and money and documents than we had. But he needs to get his facts right.”

For his part, Anderson is angry that Coup 53 implies he and Rooper were failing to tell the truth. “We feel we may have been traduced,” said Anderson.

In the film trailer Amirani claims his revelations in the film will turn history “inside out”.

He also made the same allegations of a “mysterious” missing film in a wide range of pre-publicity for his film

No related posts.But after reviewing the film on 2 August  the Observer had to backtrack.  It had seemed to accept Amirani’s claims of censorship as fact, but later published a “clarification”, added to the story,and a letter from the End of Empire: Iran team.

Amirani found a witness who says the End of Empire producers told him an MI6 agent had asked or demanded that he be cut out.

Interviewed by the Press Gazette, the grandson of the deposed Iranian premier admitted his memory of the supposed MI6 intervention 35 years ago was flawed. “I may not have been there.  It was a long time ago,” Heda Matin Daftari, 85, who had been an adviser on the End of Empire film, said by Whatsapp from his Paris home.

The End of Empire cameraman Humphry Trevelyan, shown in Coup53, appears to remember filming a British spy among several other people at London’s Savoy Hotel, but does not clearly state he was aware of the names of any of the interviewees. The producers say he had actually filmed a different British diplomat.

Ironically, Coup53 uses extensive chunks of interviews originally conducted by End of Empire and purchased from ITV’s Archives.

Darbyshire himself died in 1993.

Amirani told the Press Gazette that the whereabouts of the supposed Darbyshire film remained a “mystery”. He declined to elaborate.

The last caption of Coup53 states: “The location or existence of the original film of the Darbyshire interview is still unknown at this time.”

More details are in correspondent.world.