I’ve hesitated before writing this post. Criticising the BBC can so easily seem like sour grapes: they used to put work my way and now they don’t and yeah, yeah, they need to encourage young talent. They need to air drama that’s relevant.
The last piece the BBC commissioned from me was a dramatisation of Little Women. There was a small tussle over my resistance to inserting dollops of feminist spin but it was an otherwise happy experience. However I do remember thinking, as we recorded a scene in which the March sisters sang I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, ‘Laurie, you’re not going to get away with stuff like this for much longer.’
I have no other axe to grind. I haven’t been a BBC licence payer for more than 15 years and am unlikely ever to be one again. But this week’s discussion about the use of the C word and the corporation’s arrogant dismissal of complaints it received after its airing last October have prodded me back to life. The programme was the News Quiz, the perp was Sandi Toksvig and the joke should have been edited out. I will now slit another vein of slow professional suicide by saying that Miss Toksvig is one of the nation’s sacred cows. Let me be clear, I mean this in a completely gender-neutral sense (it says here) and intend no offence towards Hindus or bovids.
There are plenty of other national treasures in the same herd as Sandi Toksvig – Jo Brand, Stephen Fry, Bob Geldof, Sheila Hancock, to name but four – and the thing they have in common is their blatant anti-conservative lean. It’s a given, fundamental to anything that comes out of their mouths, that the Left is right and the Right is abhorrent. Conservative, that’s the real C word at the BBC.
I shall return to this subject. But first I need to rest in a darkened room.