Memories of the BBC’s innovative Open Door series

Your interesting feature on the BBC’s Open Door series (Black teachers, trans women, cleaners and cons: how the BBC’s Open Door allowed ‘real people’ to let rip, 24 January) reported that the producers gave participants “complete editorial control”. In at least one case, however, they were overruled at a senior management or political level shortly before broadcast.

All Against the Bomb, created by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and broadcast in 1976, originally included a 51-second segment of interviews with Polaris submarine crew, taken from a BBC Midweek film broadcast in 1974. It displayed a phlegmatic attitude by crew to their role in the potential deaths of millions of civilians.

These comments – one of which was the planned opening shot of the CND film – were excluded after representations from the Ministry of Defence, subsequently acknowledged in parliamentary questions. Open Door was an admirable initiative, but in this case at least, there were still lines that could not be crossed.
David Griffiths

• Sean O’Hagan’s excellent piece on the BBC series Open Door says that it was a direct result of an internal proposal by David Attenborough in 1972.

In fact, the whole drive for access television in this country came from Rowan Ayers (creator of Late Night Line-Up, The Old Grey Whistle Test, and Up Sunday) who argued the case for it to Attenborough, who was then BBC Television’s director of programmes, and found himself pushing at an... open door.
Tony Laryea
Editor, BBC Community Programme Unit 1985-89