A CATHEDRAL has defended its decision to allow the BBC to use it as the setting for a fictional shootout.

The series finale of 1960s police drama Inspector George Gently, which was broadcast on BBC One on Sunday night, featured a deadly gunfight in Durham Cathedral.

Young choristers are seen fleeing from rehearsals before characters are shot dead and collapse in the central nave.

Avril Newey, from Coventry, said: “My first reaction was shock.

“It seems so out of place. I am aware of the huge amounts of money needed to keep our churches and cathedrals in good order, but this was so against everything that the cathedral would stand for.”

Simon Nickerson, from Coalville, Leicestershire, said: “While I appreciate that this was of course only a fictional representation and one must give leeway perhaps to other factors involved, not least of which is the substantial income cathedrals everywhere draw from TV and film companies using their ancient buildings for location work.

“Nonetheless, as a practising Christian, I considered the violent nature of these scenes at the cathedral completely inappropriate and unethical in what is recognised, even by non-believers, as a sacred place.”

The Chapter of Durham Cathedral said it gave much consideration to the programme’s content before making a decision on filming and sought the advice of the Bishop of Durham, the Right Reverend Justin Welby.

It said the episode reflected the cathedral’s history of having been a place of both sanctuary and brutality and was a kind of morality play in which it was obvious the perpetrator of the violence was bad, and good and evil were clearly identified.

A spokesman said: “Bad things sometimes happen in sacred places. A cathedral should be a place where issues of justice and morality can be explored both through formal worship and through culture and the performing arts.

“Television drama of the quality of George Gently is contemporary drama at its best.”

The BBC did not respond to The Northern Echo’s request for a comment.

The episode attracted about 4.3 million viewers.