Diana: Every Picture Sells A Story

TV bosses at Channel 4 know that every picture sells a story.
So they must have been delighted by the royal row over Diana: The Witnesses In The Tunnel which captured acres of media coverage.
Before, it was just another documentary about her death, and goodness knows we’ve had enough of them.
Now those newspaper headlines, TV, radio and web reports will have delivered a far larger audience tonight than would have watched otherwise.
I sat just a short distance away from Princes William and Harry at Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral and saw what could not be broadcast on television – the tears which flowed for their mother.
Of course they will be upset by this film, which focused on events involving photographers in the Pont d’Alma tunnel after the Paris car crash which claimed her life.
In particular, there was concern about the decision to show a photo of a doctor administering oxygen to Diana, even though she was blocked out of the picture and unseen.

“If it were your or my mother dying in that tunnel, would we want the scene broadcast to the nation?” their private secretary asked in a letter to Channel 4.
Almost certainly not. But this was a major public figure whose death is still, for some, a subject for speculation, despite clear official reports into what actually happened.
The documentary explained how the photographers who had followed Diana’s car were not to blame for the crash, or her death, despite many leaping to that conclusion in the immediate aftermath.
Surrounded by misinformation about its content, it actually contained no new photos and certainly nothing approaching the now locked away images which would have been a real cause for condemnation had they been shown.
There were some striking quotes.
Asked for advice by one of his staff who had been in the tunnel, picture agency boss Laurent Sola told him: “We are photographers, we have to take pictures.”
Fellow photographer Nikola Arsov was one of those arrested.
“We hadn’t done anything wrong,” he protested. “We had a press card. We were journalists and here we were in a Paris police station.
“I only had a camera. I didn’t have a shotgun or pistol.”
Whether the film was in the public interest is questionable. All of this has been said before. But that avalanche of extra publicity elevated it to a notoriety it did not deserve.
The Princes say they have a duty to protect their mother and many will sympathise with them.
But as narrator Laurence Fox concluded: “The photographs taken in the tunnel are, perhaps, the clearest record of what truly happened that night.
“They were pivotal in clearing the photographers and they will become the last chapter in the picture story that is the life of Diana, Princess of Wales.”

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