The BBC Will Repair a Controversial Statue By a Disgraced Artist After a Protester Attacked It With a Hammer


The BBC has announced plans to restore a statue by the highly controversial artist Eric Gill after it was attacked with a hammer in January 2022. There has been a movement to remove the British sculptor’s public works from view ever since the late 1980s, when his posthumously published private diaries revealed that he had sexually abused his two eldest daughters and his pet dog.

Gill’s 1932 depiction of Prospero and Ariel from Shakespeare’s was carved on site in a niche of the facade of the BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London. The sculptor later claimed that the image was actually of God and Jesus.

Half a century after Gill’s death in 1940, a 1989 biography written by Fiona MacCarthy revealed for the first time the full extent of the artist’s sexual perversions. On top of the documented sexual abuse, which was previously unknown to the public, the book detailed numerous affairs and an incestuous relationship between Gill and one of his sisters.

The damaged sculpture by Eric Gill seen above an entrance to the BBC’s Broadcasting House in London, England. Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images.

Gill has since become the subject of several calls to have his public artworks demolished, with this work in particular becoming the focus of far-right pundits like Tommy Robinson and QAnon groups, as a means of criticizing the national broadcaster. On January 12th, a man climbed the front of Broadcasting House with a ladder and started to smash the statue with a hammer while another man livestreamed the vandalism and addressed the public with a rant about the artist’s pedophilia.

The BBC sought advice on how to respond to last year’s attack from Historic England, a public body sponsored by the U.K. government, according to

“Gill’s abusive behavior and lifestyle are well documented and the BBC in no way condones his behavior,” said Robert Seatter, head of BBC History. “So while it is right that the fabric of the building is restored, we must also ensure people are fully informed about the history connected to it.”

The statue will therefore be fitted out with a new QR code that will allow viewers and passersby to easily access more context about Eric Gill.

The BBC will fund the works’ restoration using insurance money, rather than relying on the annual license fee that anyone in the U.K. who watches or listens to BBC content must pay. It is currently set to take place this summer.

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