TWENTY years ago, I was a fervent defender of the BBC. And not just because it paid my wages.
I genuinely believed that it was the gate guardian to all we hold dear, and that it alone forced ITV and Channel 4 to make quality programmes. They had to if they wanted any viewers at all.
Without Auntie, I reckoned that naked commercialism would take over and, soon, we’d end up with television like they had in Italy or Spain.
Hours of incomprehensible game shows followed by a shouty weathergirl in not much of a bikini.
But then along came Volvo sponsors Sky Atlantic with a host of dramas in which a Swedish detective in a jumper would solve crimes by staring into a lake for six weeks. We loved them.
And then there was Amazon and Netflix, who realised that if we were going to give them our money, they’d better bloody well give us some brilliant, intelligent shows in return. So they did.
All of this meant that if we had the cash, we could get home after work and watch Breaking Bad or Ray Donovan or Dexter, or The Man In The High Castle or The Last Ship, or Ozark, or a Swedish woman staring into another lake, or Game Of Thrones, or The Sopranos or The Wire or 24 or Billions, or True Detective.
Or we could watch a skateboarding duck on The One Show.
Then there’s football. Right now, if you’re a fan, you must pay BT, Sky and Amazon to stay in touch.
That’s expensive, especially as you are also forced to pay your licence fee for a service that offers almost no live football at all. Or decent sport of any kind.
To fight back against the onslaught of choice, the BBC has announced that by 2027 . . . ready . . . drum roll . . . two-thirds of its staff will be based outside London.
So what? Sure, you can have a technology hub in Newcastle and locate your Sounds app in Salford but if all the decisions are still being made in Islington, over a plate of nuclear-free, vegetarian peace kale, it won’t make any difference.
The fact is that the BBC is effectively governed by the monoculture that is social media. It’s terrified of offending Twitter, so it abides by the rules.
Far-right politics are bad. Far-left politics are fine. Veganism is good. Donald Trump is not.
You get the impression that if the BBC made The Crown, the Queen would be played by that guy in a wheelchair from Countryfile and Prince Philip by Idris Elba.
And all they’d ever talk about, because all anyone ever talks about on any BBC show, is bloody climate change.
I know it’s very noble but after a while, it becomes wearing. And I find myself sitting there thinking: “Oh for God’s sake, can’t they just have sex?”
No. Obviously, no one can have sex on the BBC because a baby might result. And babies need food which, of course, causes global warming.
The BBC was set up to “inform, educate and entertain”. Not “lecture, bombard and lecture again”.
It’s got to the point now where the only BBC programmes I regularly watch are Pointless and Match Of The Day.
I can’t even bring myself to listen to Attenborough any more. In the past, it was: “Look at this amazing fish which can breathe through its anus.”
Now, it is: “Look at this amazing fish that can breathe through its anus and which is threatened by climate change.”
Soon, it’s entirely possible the licence fee will become voluntary and when it does, the BBC will quickly learn that to survive it must make shows people want to watch.
That’s people everywhere, not just Twitter people in a Shoreditch juice bar.
Killing Eve. Fleabag. Earth’s Tropical Islands. More of that.
And less of everything else.
Mental health issues
MRS WINDSOR, formally known as HRH the Duchess of an entire bleeding county, spent some time this week with a bunch of ladies who reckon that climate change mostly affects women.
So it’s good to see Meghan’s still working hard on behalf of those with mental-health issues.
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