As J.K. Rowling’s Podcast Premiers, The BBC Issues An Apology To The Writer Over Coverage Of Transgender Controversy

J.K. Rowling in old footage for the Harry Potter Reunion
(Image credit: Warner Bros. )

The Harry Potter franchise has been entertaining the public for decades, with the Wizarding World amassing entire generations of fans. While this has continued with movies, theme parks, and even stage plays, there’s been some controversy surrounding the property over recent years. This is largely due to author J.K. Rowling, and her views on gender and sex which some have found to be transphobic. And as Rowling’s new podcast premiers, the BBC issued an apology to Rowling over their coverage of the ongoing controversy. Let’s break it all down.

The main issue surrounding J.K. Rowling revolves around her comments about transgender women, which inspired Harry Potter stars to speak out against them, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. The acclaimed author has continued to double down on her views, with the discourse online also showing no signs of slowing down. Rowling will seemingly be able to tell her side of the story in the new podcast The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling (opens in new tab), which debuted its first two episodes today. Deadline also revealed that the BBC issued an apology to her over a recent segment. In said segment, Good Morning Scotland  journalist Carrie Marshall spoke about the recent release of the video game Harry Potter Legacy, and trans fans and allies who are boycotting. She was quoted saying:

This is having a measurable effect on trans people’s lives and potentially our safety too. I think that’s why so many trans people are concerned about this game.

This segment reportedly got a number of audience complaints, leading to a review by the BBC about its contents. This shows how high the tension is related to Rowling’s controversial views, including the many people out there who are defending the Harry Potter writer. 

Eventually a statement was issued by the BBC which seemingly put the fault on the journalist in question. An apology was issued to Rowling and viewers, which reads:

The debate got into the issue of gender identity and claims were made about JK Rowling’s views. We accept that the programme failed to challenge these claims and acknowledge that our contributors gave their opinion as fact. This fell below the rigorous editorial standards we’ve applied to our broad coverage of trans and gender recognition stories across BBC Scotland’s news and current affairs output, and we apologize for that.

While there's still plenty of discourse surrounding J.K. Rowling, it seems that the 57 year-old writer got a potential victory with this apology from the BBC. She’s also expected to share her point of view about the ongoing controversy while appearing on The Witch Trial of J.K. Rowling

The first two episodes of that podcast have aired today, but they don’t necessarily focus on J.K. Rowling’s comments about the transgender community. That’ll likely happen in future episodes, although there was a quote where Rowling addressed the concept of her controversy souring her “legacy. In her words:

You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly. I do not walk around my house thinking about my legacy. What a pompous way to live your life, walk around thinking, ‘what will my legacy be?’ Whatever, I’ll be dead. I care about now.

Between the podcast and this BBC apology, J.K. Rowling will likely continue to make headlines. And while Wizarding World actors like Eddie Redmayne have come out in support of the trans community, there are also plenty who have supported Rowling herself. That includes the likes of Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter, who take umbrage to the online hate aimed at Rowling. 

The fate of Harry Potter in the movies is currently unclear, as it doesn’t look like the final Fantastic Beasts movies are going to be produced. But Warner Bros. has affirmed its commitment to the Wizarding World and J.K. Rowling herself, so there’s no telling what might come next. In the meantime, check out the 2023 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.