Richard Branson’s son’s production company suspended by BBC for failings in Reggie Yates Australia programme

Sam Branson's Sundog Pictures has been handed a six-month suspension after the BBC decided Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback unfairly portrayed extreme drinking among the Aboriginal community


Sam Branson’s company Sundog Pictures has been formally suspended from winning BBC commissions for six months for its failings in the BBC3 Reggie Yates documentary Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback.


The Corporation has completed its internal review into the programme after angry residents accused presenter Reggie Yates and the crew of unethical behaviour in the documentary which was broadcast in January.

Among the claims, the crew was said to have filmed members of the community and others drinking heavily at a wake, but presented it as a drunken party.

Residents said Yates told them he wanted to tell a positive story, but then unfairly emphasised the town’s problems, particularly with alcohol.

The ‘party’ scene, purportedly shot on a single night, was actually filmed at four separate gatherings.

The BBC Trust has already criticised the programme, saying it was “a serious breach of its editorial guidelines” and that it was “deeply troubled” by what it described as a “grave lack of judgement by those concerned with the production”.

Sundog was suspended in February while the BBC’s investigation was taking place, meaning the six month suspension ends in September.

The BBC said in a statement: “Following a full review and in the light of the Trust’s finding on Hidden Australia: Black in the Outback, the BBC has decided to suspend Sundog Pictures for six months covering all new commissions and development. It was a serious breach of the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines and the high standards of accuracy and fairness we expect of programme makers.”

As revealed today, the company is co-producing Quest for Space, a new Brian Cox documentary on commercial space travel and exploration which was given the go-ahead before the temporary ban.

The BBC has denied suggestions that the commission represents a conflict of interest because of the connection between Sam Branson and his father Richard who owns and runs Virgin Galactic which is pioneering commercial space travel.

The Corporation insisted that the programme will focus on space exploration and space mining generally and would not be a plug for Branson Snr’s company.


A spokeswoman said that it also promised to profile the work of other bodies including NASA and Deep Space Industries and Blue Origin – the aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight service founded by Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos.