BBC producers hired anti-nuclear campaigner to help make drama Vigil

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The BBC has come under fire after it was revealed that an anti-nuclear campaigner was hired to help make the submarine drama Vigil.

The series’ producers hired Scottish National Party councillor for Glasgow Feargal Dalton, who opposes the Trident system, to act as a script consultant and to provide advice on nuclear submarines. 

The six-part series, starring Suranne Jones, follows the mysterious disappearance of a Scottish fishing trawler and a death on-board the submarine HMS Vigil.

The BBC said it ‘consulted a range of advisers and experts to make Vigil’ and that Mr Dalton had ‘no editorial impact’.

© Provided by Daily Mail (
© Provided by Daily Mail (

Mr Dalton spent 17 years in the Royal Navy, during which time he became a lieutenant commander of a Trident-missile submarine.

However, as a councillor for Glasgow, he has spoken publicly against Trident missiles being carried by Navy submarines and is also a supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Jackie Baillie, the deputy leader of the Scottish Labour Party, said the BBC should have employed someone who was ‘not so obviously biased’.

She told The Telegraph: ‘Feargal Dalton has long campaigned against the Trident nuclear deterrent. The BBC should have employed an expert who, unlike Mr Dalton, is not so obviously biased against nuclear submarines and has a long standing association with CND.’

© Provided by Daily Mail (
© Provided by Daily Mail (

Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, told the paper ‘it would be strange’ if an anti-nuclear campaigner gave advice about ‘technical and on-board issues’.

He said the portrayal of the Navy in Vigil is ‘a long way from reality’.

Mr Dalton has been approached for comment. 

Stewart McDonald, SNP MP for Glasgow South, defended Mr Dalton’s appointment, adding: ‘My friend and colleague, Feargal Dalton, a veteran of the Royal Navy submarine service – has more wisdom than the two politicians who apparently think he shouldn’t be employed because they don’t like his politics.

‘Entitled and disgraceful stuff from Jackie Baillie & Lord Campbell.’ 

Vigil sees the police brought into conflict with the Navy and British security service, as Jones’ DCI Amy Silva and DS Kirsten Longacre (played by Rose Leslie) lead an investigation on land and at sea into a conspiracy that goes to the very heart of Britain’s national security. 

Mr Dalton reportedly drove his wife, SNP MP Carol Monaghan, to CND rallies while he was serving in the Royal Navy.

After his retirement from the Armed Forces in 2010, he became Glasgow City Council’s representative on Nuclear Free Local Authorities.

In an interview with The Guardian in 2016, Mr Dalton said he was sceptical of the independent nuclear deterrent, adding: ‘I knew for 15 years that Trident was about keeping Britain as a permanent member of the UN security council and most of the men I served with knew it too.

‘We had an acute sense of, “If we mess this up, the UK will lose its place at the big boys’ table”.’ 

A BBC spokesman said: ‘The World Productions team consulted a range of advisers and experts to make Vigil, including Mr Dalton who had no editorial input but offered factual insight from his long career as a member of the Royal Navy’s Submarine Service.’ 

The BBC’s latest drama has also been criticised by Royal Navy veterans who claimed, among other things, there was too much space onboard HMS Vigil, the uniforms were wrong, and that a body would be stored in a freezer, not a torpedo tube.

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Former Navy captain Ryan Ramsey, who has served as commanding officer on nuclear submarine HMS Turbulent between 2008 and 2011, said that because so little is known by the general public about submarine life, those in the know were hoping for some realism.

He told MailOnline: ‘It’s important to remember it’s a crime drama and not a documentary but the reaction from the military community has been almost bipolar.

‘Some have taken the view that yes, it’s a drama so you know there are going to be inaccuracies but pointing out that it’s not a realistic portrayal of life onboard is important.

‘Others have just completely lost their minds over it and found it really quite frustrating.’ 

Vigil continues on BBC One tonight at 9pm. 

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