1 9 9 2 (UK)
3 x 55 minute episodes
Advertising executive Andrew Fell (Bob Peck) begins to investigate the death of his old girlfriend Beth (Judi Maynard) and uncovers a conspiracy by big food companies to cover up the spread of BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow disease”) in humans.
The plot became increasingly absurd over the three episodes, ending with an unconvincing fall from a balcony of Brighton’s Grand Hotel.
Worried that the drama would generate public fears, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food intervened, contacting the BBCs deputy director-general, John Birt. The Ministry had been at pains for the previous two years to downplay suggestions that the disease could spread to humans.
The BBC defended its independent experts – neuropathologist Dr Grant and microbiologist Professor Richard Lacey – and the series, arguing that nobody can be certain whether BSE could kill humans (it wasn’t until 1996 that the then Health Minister Stephen Dorrell admitted that BSE was the most likely cause of CJD in humans).