Video of IRA fighters shooting down a British helicopter included in a documentary produced by U.K. television network ITV is actually a YouTube clip of ArmA 2.
It’s no secret that the Provisional Irish Republican Army was supported by many foreign individuals and governments over the years, including Moammar Gaddafi’s Libya in the 1970s and 80s. Perhaps because of the situation in Libya, or perhaps just because it had some airtime to fill, ITV decided to produce and run a documentary on the matter, naturally making mention of a 1988 incident, captured on video, in which the IRA used Libyan-supplied anti-aircraft artillery to bring down a British helicopter.
There’s only one problem: the shoot-down never actually happened. The video, posted on YouTube back in March with an misleadingly realistic-looking caption, was actually created in ArmA 2, a tactical shooter in the vein of Operation Flashpoint developed by Bohemia Interactive.
An ITV rep told the Guardian that the events depicted in the documentary were “genuine” but that the wrong clip was somehow inserted during the editing process. “This was an unfortunate case of human error for which we apologize,” the rep said.
ITV has removed the documentary from its website, but it’s already been seen by roughly 1.3 million viewers who caught it during its broadcast premiere on Monday night. The network said it would go back online once the correct footage had been added; fortunately, a clip of the documentary that includes the faux-shakycam video can still be seen on YouTube.
Bohemia Interactive CEO Marek Spanel described the whole thing as “very weird” and said that he didn’t know anything about it prior to the documentary’s debut. “At the moment we are gathering further information about the matter but I already had chance to see the documentary and so far I am not sure how could they make such [an] obvious mistake,” he told Spong. “On a somewhat more positive note, we consider this as a bizarre appreciation of the level of realism incorporated into our games.”