Why is the final Inspector George Gently episode not airing this Sunday?

Sources suggest that the theme for the final episode could be too political to be shown just ten days before the 8 June General Election

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Inspector George Gently fans recovering from last Sunday night’s episode which saw our heroic copper investigate the discovery of an unidentified body found at a chemical plant will be wondering when the second and concluding film is to be aired.

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It was billed as a two-part farewell to the policeman played by Martin Shaw – the Radio Times listing has it as the first of two films – but the second part has not been scheduled for Sunday 28 May. Why?

The answer, it appears, could lie in the content.

Set in the 1970s, RadioTimes.com understands that it involves a charismatic, possibly promiscuous (and potentially worse than that) ficitonal Labour MP and former Cabinet Minister in the Harold Wilson government, and contains numerous scenes where all the talk is about politicians and elections. 

Airing the film just a few days before the 2017 election could be too great a risk, it is understood, and the BBC, perhaps wisely, has decided to show it at a later date – a date yet to be confirmed.

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Inspector George Gently in Radio Times magazine, billed as part one of two

Under Ofcom rules, tighter impartiality restrictions apply at elections and this applies as much to dramas, comedies and panel shows as it does to news and current affairs programmes.

The BBC however states that it had never committed to airing episode two a week after the first film aired. It describes both films as “standalone stories” and said that it had “never scheduled” the second film for the following week.

Instead, in the 8.30pm slot on Sunday 28 May, BBC1 will broadcast a programme that “marks the recent Bafta success” of one of its award-winning dramas from 2016.

Instead of Inspector George Gently at 8.30pm next Sunday, the BBC is airing a repeat of Damilola: Our Loved Boy, the story of the 10-year-old Nigerian schoolboy killed in London in 2000 and his family’s fight for justice.

It was also one of the the biggest winners at the Baftas, scoping best single drama and best supporting actress for Wunmi Mosaku, who played Damilola’s mother Gloria.

The following Sunday on 4th June – four days before polling day – BBC1 is repeating another Bafta success, Planet Earth II.

The second Inspector George Gently film is called Gently and the New Age and will see Gently facing up to the emotional impact caused by the death of his beloved wife Isabella, murdered by a notorious gangster just before the start of the series.

According to actor Martin Shaw, the detective will get an appropriate send-off.

“It’s been such a popular show and the characters are so well drawn… that you need a proper coda,” he said. “You need to end the symphony with a striking chord.”

Asked whether it was a companion piece as well as a moving farewell, Shaw told RadioTimes.com: “It’s all of those things. It’s going to be moving because we go deeper into George Gently’s withheld grief and the tightness that he holds; partly through his relationship with [colleague] Rachel [Coles] he’s able to release some of that grief. The relationship with John Bacchus is a little uneasy still.”

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George Gently and The New Age is expected to air at some point in 2017