Greek state broadcaster NET has denied that it censored a gay kissing scene from the premier of the British-American hit television drama Downtown Abbey at the demand of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party and a religious leader, saying it was taken out because the show was being shown in the 10-11 p.m. time slot when younger viewers might have seen it.
The show is a smash success and came to Greece for the first time as part of a package of British dramas but the opening show immediately got NET involved in the middle of a furor over whether it was pandering to Golden Dawn, which last week shut down the showing of an American play it deemed offensive and was said to be behind the arrest of a man for posting a Facebook parody of a long-dead monk the party said was blasphemous.
Greek Media, the major opposition party Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and Greek viewers lashed out at NET for excising the scene, a key moment in the opening episode, showing a Duke and a footman bussing for 12 seconds.
Dimitris Papadimoulis of the leftist SYRIZA party accused the management of NET of pandering to Golden Dawn and to the Bishop of Piraeus Serapheim, both vocal opponents of gay rights. Papadimoulis asked on his Twitter account: “Who decided on this censorship? Serapheim of Piraeus or Golden Dawn?”
Popular free press Lifo said in a commentary that, “The action is not just outrageous, but ludicrous,” while Athinorama, a widely-read weekly entertainment guide, also mocked the censorship, saying, “Well at least they didn’t touch the context.” The show is set in a fictional Yorkshire country estate in the first quarter of the 20th-Century and is based on the shifting relationships between the aristocratic family and their servants.
NET’s management issued a statement denying that the scene was censored. Costas Spyropoulos, the broadcaster’s General Director for television, said that, “The erotic relationship between two men, as it arises from the narrative, was not censored. Only the kiss was cut because of the hour of broadcasting.” The show was broadcast with a parental warning. He said it would be rebroadcast in at a late-night slot on Oct. 16.
The scene that ERT said it could not show after 10pm with a blue certificate