Several articles have now appeared claiming that the End of Empire team ‘blocked’ the digital release of the important new documentary, Coup 53. It is high time to lay this canard to rest. We have never blocked Coup 53.
Stephen Dorril, who appears in Coup 53: “integrity is what I value most and this documentary has none”
I have had to reach the conclusion that my ‘memory’ of my involvement in a filmed
interview with Darbyshire was erroneous.
In 1985 Channel 4 and ITV transmitted Iran, part of the End of Empire series. It told the story, for the first time and with frank eye-witness accounts, of the 1953 Anglo-American coup against the Iranian Prime Minister, Mohammed Mossadegh.
Coup 53, potentially an excellent documentary, persists in innuendo, untruths and an unwarranted attack on the integrity of fellow film makers.
I shared the small End of Empire: Iran office with Alison Rooper and Mark Anderson, working on the parallel Egypt programme. Had you asked me, I would have told you of the thrill of excitement when Alison secured and then recorded on audio cassette the research interview with MI6 agent, Norman Darbyshire, as he described in detail the British role in the 1953 Iran coup.
Coup 53 was worse than I expected. The scene where Amirani talks to Alison Rooper in his office is creepy because it feels like a set-up. Alison however, conducted herself with admirable coolness. I was impressed by the way she remembered immediately that Darbyshire wasn’t filmed. I directed Rhodesia, the final film in the End of Empire series, and if someone tried to question me about interviews we researched for that programme in 1984, I wouldn’t have a clue.
As a documentary maker with a strong interest in revealing the key events behind important moments in modern history, the film Coup 53 makes me more than a little unhappy. However, that said, the film could be redeemed by the removal of several factual errors and especially all the false claims made against Granada’s End of Empire film.
Coup 53 retells the coup story in much detail but their story is wrapped round a completely false narrative – claiming that End of Empire filmed Norman Darbyshire and that the interview was cut out of an early version of the programme at MI6’s or the British Government’s request.