Classicist and author Professor Mary Beard is to be cut from the US version of the hit BBC show Civilisation, PBS has confirmed.
Professor Beard, who appears alongside British historians Simon Schama and David Olusoga in the series, has been replaced onscreen with a voiceover by American actor Liev Schrieber. The show following in the footsteps of Kenneth Clarke’s landmark series of the same name in 1969.
In a recent interview with RTS Professor Beard discussed tackling such a monumental task and expanding it to cover countries all over the world, saying “If you’re doing, in principle, the world, you can’t do it chronologically…That’s quite frightening when you start, but it’s also liberating. It means that what has to drive this is the argument.”
Since the revelations of the alteration of the programme, which has aired in the UK in recent months Professor Beard has been active on Twitter, commenting,“Really hope that friends in USA realise that my Civilisations episodes on PBS are very different from original BBC versions, have been drastically changed [sic] The originals were far from 'anodyne' I promise,” in response to a review of the programme by The Wall Street Journal.
Really hope that friends in USA realise that my Civilisations episodes on PBS are very different from original BBC versions, have been drastically changed The originals were far from 'anodyne' I promise https://t.co/xnzAL710Yi BBC versions will be available on PBS digi channel.
— mary beard (@wmarybeard) April 17, 2018
Both Schama and Olusoga’s segments have been edited but Professor Beard commented to The Times, “It looks to me that mine were more substantially edited than the others…I wonder why that was? I always try and stick up for elderly ladies with grey hair.”
This isn’t the first time that Professor Beard’s appearance has become an issue of contention, with late Sunday Times critic A.A. Gill commenting, “For someone who looks this closely at the past, it is strange she hasn’t had a closer look at herself before stepping in front of a camera. Beard coos over corpses’ teeth without apparently noticing she is wearing them.”
When RTS spoke with Professor Beard earlier this year, she spoke about the impact that these issues with her appearance have, saying, “It would be wrong to say that it doesn’t bother you at all [when] you look at your phone and you discover that kind of crap,” she said. “I think that, when I was younger, that sort of stuff would have bothered me much more.”
Read the full interview with Professor Mary Beard here.