13/12/2011 14:56 GMT | Updated 13/12/2011 16:16 GMT

Frozen Planet Row: Mark Thompson, BBC Director General, Says Newspapers Giving TV Show A Hard Time After Leveson

Newspapers are giving wildlife series Frozen Planet a hard time in revenge for the BBC's coverage of the Leveson Inquiry, director-general Mark Thompson has suggested.

The BBC has been criticised for "fakery" after including scenes of a polar bear with her newborn cubs which were actually filmed in a zoo, without informing viewers on screen.

Speaking to MPs, Mr Thompson quoted from a newspaper editorial and alluded to the story being prominence in retaliation for BBC coverage of the hearings into press ethics. He said: "I do rather wonder whether this was about polar bears or Lord Leveson and other matters."

Footage of the cub was made in a zoo and was mixed with real wild scenes.

Veteran broadcaster Sir David Attenborough defended the material, saying it would have been too dangerous to film such scenes in the animal's den. He said including an explanation in the narration would have ruined the atmosphere.

Speaking to the Media Select Committee, BBC Trust chairman Lord Patten said: "The alternative would have been either dead bears, or dead people with cameras." He pointed out the story behind the footage had been publicly available on the BBC website since November 7.

Mr Thompson added: "Those that want to find out how it's made can find out how it's made."

They told MPs that just 32 people had "raised an objection" to the way the footage had been included in the show.

Mr Thompson said: "For the overwhelming majority of the public there is no evidence that it was spoilt for them. And moreover when we asked them the question about whether they want to be reminded constantly about how the programme is made as it goes along, they said they would prefer that we didn't."