The BBC’s Antiques Roadshow will show fewer ivory objects in future programmes, but has stopped short of banning the valuation of antique ivory on screen.
There has been speculation that the show was under pressure to
follow its 'sister' programme in the USA and drop most ivory
appraisals from the show.
Executive producer Simon Shaw told ATG that the show had become
increasingly cautious about bringing pieces of ivory to camera,
which has resulted in a decline in such appearances on Antiques
Roadshow. The approach has been taken in association with the
team of specialists who have debated the issue at length.
However, Mr Shaw believes the Roadshow has an
important role to play as viewers look for more information on the
subject. "In our role as a trusted source of advice about antiques
and fine art, we do not feel it appropriate to impose a ban on all
coverage of ivory objects.
"On the few occasions where we will show antique ivory in future
programmes we will choose them because of their importance in
representing such cultural or creative significance and only when
such pieces are legal under the CITES convention. Within these
features we will also seek to reflect the wider context of the
debate about ivory and the horrors of modern day poaching."
Mr Shaw said they had already filmed a discussion of the issues
around the ownership of antique ivory that includes contributions
from Will Travers, from the wildlife charity Born Free, and Dr
Marjorie Trusted, author of the Victoria and Albert Museum's
catalogue of Baroque & Later Ivories. This will be shown as
part of the new series of Antiques Roadshow in the
The statement follows the news that the Public Broadcasting
Service, makers of the US version of the Roadshow, will be
dropping some ivory appraisals from the show. Tusk carvings in
particular won't be shown in new episodes or in segments drawn from
previously aired shows.
It is unclear if the BBC programme (and its extensive series
archive) will be similarly edited to remove 'problematic' objects
prior to viewing in the US or other overseas markets where the show
has a large following.
PBS recently faced criticism from The Wildlife Conservation
Society (WCS) who believe monetising pre-convention ivory
perpetuates the demand for illegal modern ivory carvings.
Earlier this year, against a background of changing federal and
state legislation, WCS launched a campaign to influence the content
of the PBS show. It issued a statement describing the June 4
decision as an important step in ensuring elephant ivory "is not
glorified on air".
John Calvelli of the WCS added: "All ivory, whether it's
centuries old or days old, comes from a dead elephant. When
Antiques Roadshow appraises ivory on air, it sends
the message that selling ivory is perfectly okay and also highly
PBS will, however, continue to show antiques with elephant ivory
elements, such as portrait miniatures or musical instruments, when
viewers will be informed about the historical and cultural
significance of such objects and what PBS called "the larger issues
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