George Orwell, the professor and the BBC

I’m indebted to Guest Who for posting this bizarre tweet by Nick Robinson about Orwell. I was stunned by it, struggling to absorb the fact that the BBC could put a statue of Orwell up at its headquarters, complete with the following quote:

If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear

Once I’d recovered sufficiently to ask Google for help, I was directed to Jean Seaton, professor of media history and the official BBC historian, who last month wrote an article on Orwell. I found her assertion that, “Orwell would laugh at the statues of him that are sprouting up,” fascinating since it appeared to be a direct assault on those who had commissioned the statue and placed it at BBC headquarters. Could this be evidence of independent thinking, free of the iron grip of far-left ideology which has paralysed so many universities?

Well, maybe not since the professor also tells us that, “In the US, sales [of 1984] surged as people searched for a way of getting to grips with the reality of the Trump administration.” As if Trump, the embattled president of a democracy with all its checks and balances, resembles Big Brother, who has absolute power over life and death as the head of a dictatorship; as if Trump, as he struggles to drain the swamp, is in fact the alpha alligator.

Why did the professor need to signal her virtue with the obligatory anti-Trump stance? Perhaps she is simply making amends for being critical of the statue. She needs to understand that even if the rise in sales of 1984 can be positively linked to Trump, that says nothing about the president himself but is rather revealing about the paranoia and ignorance of so many who oppose him.

But to get back to the BBC, does it not realize that Orwell knew what the state propagandist was about even back in the 1940s and that he would be horrified if he could see it now?

Did the BBC read 1984 without understanding a word of it?

In attempting to align itself with Orwell, the BBC has committed an arrogant act of historical revisionism that, for me, is the culmination of all its previous sins. This alleged media champion of liberty is standing shoulder to shoulder with George Orwell and telling people what they do not want to hear? What rubbish. From climate change skeptics to Donald Trump’s remarkable achievements to the courageous stand by Tommy Robinson and others against the Islamic invasion of the West, the BBC is in fact not telling people what it does not want them to hear.

The Ministry of Truth is lying again and this one is the biggest lie it has ever told.

Updates, June 10:

1. Thanks for all those fascinating contributions. I learned a lot from them and have responded to some of them.

2. I have substituted ‘bizarre’ for ‘extraordinary’ to describe Nick Robinson’s tweet.

3. The following is taken from Orwell’s The Road to Wigan Pier, published in 1937, Penguin edition pp 189-90. Over 80 years later, it still rings true:

“It is usual to speak of the Fascist objective as the ‘beehive state’, which does a grave injustice to bees. A world of rabbits ruled by stoats would be nearer the mark. It is against this beastly possibility that we have got to combine.

“The only thing for which we can combine is the underlying ideal of Socialism; justice and liberty. But it is hardly strong enough to call this ideal ’underlying’. It is almost completely forgotten. It has been buried beneath layer after layer of doctrinaire priggishness, party squabbles, and half-baked ‘progressivism’ until it is like a diamond hidden under a mountain of dung. The job of the Socialist is to get it out again. Justice and Liberty! Those are the words that have got to ring like a bugle across the world. For a long time past, certainly for the last ten years, the devil has had all the best tunes. We have reached a stage when the very word ‘Socialism’ calls up, on the one hand, a picture of aeroplanes, tractors, and huge glittering factories of glass and concrete; on the other, a picture of vegetarians with wilting beards, of Bolshevik commissars (half gangster, half gramophone), of earnest ladies in sandals, shock-headed Marxists chewing polysyllables, escaped Quakers, birth-control fanatics, and Labour Party backstairs-crawlers. Socialism, at least in this island, does not smell any longer of revolution and the overthrow of tyrants; it smells of crankishness, machine-worship, and the stupid cult of Russia. Unless you can remove that smell, and very rapidly, Fascism may win.”

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44 Responses to George Orwell, the professor and the BBC

  1. Broadcasting-on-Behalf-of-the-Caliphate says:

    Excellent article TrueToo.

    I have a question open to all: Regarding Professor Jean Seaton labelling herself the “Official Historian of the BBC”

    Does anyone know in what way she is the “Official Historian of the BBC” – is she “Official” by appointment of the UK Government in Westminster – or is she “Official” by appointment of the BBC?

    Checking her staff entry on the University of Westminster website, she does seem to be working with the BBC.


    • Demon says:

      From the article: “In 2007 she became Chair of the Orwell Prize, taking over from Sir Bernard Crick. This has become Britain’s premier prize for political writing, set standards and held journalism to account (as well as celebrating good journalism and writing) and has become under her stewardship a well known and respected force in journalism. ”

      Yiu couldn’t make it up. But the BBC do – all the time.


  2. TrueToo says:


    Thanks for that. I’m really incensed by this sly revisionism from the BBC.

    Seems a whole bunch of people like Reuters, Wiki, the Guardian and her own university (Westminster) regard Seaton as the official BBC historian. Dunno who appointed her. Perhaps she appointed herself?!


  3. ray_f says:

    Of course the BBC did not quote the line after.

    “If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. The common people still vaguely subscribe to that doctrine and act on it. In our country it is the liberals who fear liberty and the intellectuals who want to do dirt on the intellect”

    What’s extraordinary is Orwell was actually referring to the BBC when he wrote that line. He would not be a happy orwell knowing the BBC has twisted his message.

    And though he definitely would not agree with Tommy R’s sentiments, he would be seething at his treatment by the state, and the media blackout. Which even if were allowed to report on TR’s imprisonment, wouldn’t have bothered anyway. It would draw attention to the case. And people may start investigating and notice how many gangs with exotic names are up in court with reporting restrictions. Self censorship.


    • Despairada says:

      “And though he definitely would not agree with Tommy R’s sentiments “.

      Which sentiments would they be?

      What would Orwell have made of the islamic invasion?


      • ray_f says:

        I was speaking about the time he was alive, and his hatred of nationalism…at the time. His essays make that clear. I don’t agree with his views on this point by the way. I’m a nationalist and proud of it.

        He could not have foreseen the dangers of islam at the time. It represents everything he hated. Like communism. How would he feel about nationalism now? He might support it? He wouldn’t have to take sides. He could see it as a global danger, not a national one.

        Tommy’s sentiments would be the industrial scale of rape by muslims, and covering up by the state, in conjunction with the media. I support Tommy R in everything he does.


        • G.W.F. says:

          Orwell fought in the Spanish Civil War. About 136,000 Moslems fought for the Generalissimo’s “Army of Africa,” the feared vanguard of a force that, ironically, Franco portrayed as a Christian crusade against godless communists.

          I would assume that Orwell was aware of Islamic fighters and of their brutality.
          Read on


          • ray_f says:

            I realize i did not make myself clear.
            When I said
            “He could not have foreseen the dangers of islam at the time”
            I was meaning at the time he was writing, he could not have foreseen the current situation regarding our ‘leaders’ love of all things islamic, and their desire to destroy Europe as we know it. He could not have foreseen grooming gangs, terrorism,sharia, a muslim invasion, the seizure of positions of power and influence.

            The dangers i refer to are not the barbarity of muslim fighters, but the dangers to our way of life, with the complicity of said leaders. Personally, I would ban islam, full stop.

            No doubt he was aware of the barbarism of muslim fighters. I can only speculate on his views regarding islam, but i imagine he viewed it in the same way he viewed communism/marxism, or worse. There again, he might not of.

            I just refuse to put words into his mouth. I can only speculate about his views then, and what his views would be now.


    • TrueToo says:


      ….In our country it is the liberals who fear liberty and the intellectuals who want to do dirt on the intellect”

      Apparently Orwell was educated at Eton and would have rubbed shoulders with the upper crust. Perhaps it was there that he first began to mistrust the BBC-type propagandist.


  4. BigBrotherCorporation says:

    In keeping with the Orwell theme, ‘official’ is one of those words which once had a pretty precise definition, but which now seem to mean whatever suits the current agenda of the MSM bubble. There was a thread about the BBC’s use of terms like: ‘far right’, ‘think tank’, and ‘populist’ recently, so don’t want to go over old ground, but use of words and phrases that clearly imply something, but which are simultaneously ambiguous enough to be employed without threat of repercussion, are something of a BBC speciality these days

    I admire Orwell most not for his novels – although who couldn’t admire ‘1984’ and ‘Animal Farm’ – but, for his understated, and often misunderstood ‘plain English campaign’. Very astute man that Orwell, but very much a creature of his era, his like wouldn’t be published these days, and certainly never celebrated. Instead we have such treasures as: JK Rowling, Steven Fry, and David Walliams.

    I was under the impression the Orwell statue and quote were installed in the BBC offices as a joke by someone rather more aware of Orwell’s message than Prick Robinson. The Prick’s imbecilic tweet, demonstrating his total lack of self awareness, or humility, was simply the icing on the cake – who said comedy was dead?


    • TrueToo says:


      I was under the impression the Orwell statue and quote were installed in the BBC offices as a joke by someone rather more aware of Orwell’s message than Prick Robinson.

      Wouldn’t that be something – to imagine BBC staff walking past the statue every day swelled with pride while Orwell is laughing at them from beyond.


  5. Beeb Brother says:

    The BBC stinks of 1984.

    1. Paralysed by political correctness/newspeak.

    Examples: We just had a whole thread about it: ‘motive unknown’ meaning ROP; ‘equality’ meaning sameness; ‘vibrant’ meaning divided – one could give umpteen examples. Even the programming is newspeak made flesh with every hero a minority and every villain less so.

    2. “The heresy of heresies was common sense.”

    Men and women are not the same; being a violent gangster who hates education makes Oxbridge admission somewhat less likely; a creed that murders 500+ (so far) in its holy month is not peaceful.

    3. Winston Smith’s job is altering history.

    The BBC is constantly tweaking stories to fit its agenda. I remember the facts of a ‘hate crime’ story perpetrated on an asylum seeker changing rapidly, especially when it turned out an immigrant had in fact been the assailant.

    4. Thought police.

    Hate crime is thought crime and they wholeheartedly support certain/many thoughts being illegal. They seem to have a whole crack team checking Twitter for stuff to be offended about.

    5. Chastity.

    Winston works alongside a woman who is part of the female chastity league or something similar, which is eerily reminiscent of #Metoo and modern feminism.

    6. Emmanuel Goldstein is Trump, and the two minutes of hate directed at him is instead 24 hours a day.

    7. Memory holes.

    Nothing about the rape gangs for decades; Obama’s spying ignored; essentially any crime committed by any of their favoured groups totally ignored, and there are lots of them.

    8. Actors/plants used pretending to be normal people.

    They do this all the time on Question Time and elsewhere, with activists pretending to be normal members of the public. On YouTube someone filmed CNN staging a Muslim anti terror demonstration – straight out of the Beeb’s playbook.

    9. Art/history changed to fit totalitarian ideology.

    Achilles portrayed by a black actor, as is Hamlet et alia; scientific achievements wrongly attributed to favoured groups and British history denigrated; ‘we are all immigrants’ though in fact we had minimal immigration for thousands of years and wave within last 50 years is unprecedented.

    10. Inner party always having everything whilst others suffer.

    No BBC employee lives in Luton’s vibrant areas which they tell us are so great.


    • Demon says:

      Emanuel Goldstein – the made-up figure to be reviled by all.

      I think it is incredibly prescient of Orwell to pick a Jewish name for this character seeing how anti-Semitic the left has become.


      • TrueToo says:


        Emanuel Goldstein – the made-up figure to be reviled by all.

        I think it is incredibly prescient of Orwell to pick a Jewish name for this character seeing how anti-Semitic the left has become

        Interesting. I don’t know about Orwell’s perceptions of Jews he encountered. Perhaps worth some research.


    • TrueToo says:

      Beeb Brother,

      Spot on comparisons there between 1984 and the BBC.


  6. Robin Horbury says:

    Surprise, surprise, Jean Seaton is also a Thatcher-basher, is the widow of Labour ‘intellectual’ Ben Pimlott, and a regular Guardian contributor. Her role ‘as ‘BBC historian’ – and her risible attempts to smear Thatcher – are chronicled on the News-watch website here:


    • Wild says:

      In other words she is Guardian reader clone, who has never had an original thought in her life, whose every opinion, from Trump to Brexit, from abortion to immigration, is utterly predictable. The tax funded BBC is like a Leftist boot stamping on your head forever, or at least as long as we are forced to pay for it; intellectually and morally bankrupt, they have no interest in the world, except as material to be forced into ideological talking points.


  7. Holly Selassie says:

    But aren`t the BBC always doing the same when it comes to the Handmaids Tale?
    Atwood herself wrote it as a dystopian nightmare, where she envisaged the “right” to be doing it, and she shafts Christianity as she does so.
    But it is Islam that is doing all she feared-but sees no point in ever saying so, she`d get killed.
    Trump is just a scapegoat , a screen to display their cowardly, unironic and humourless projections.
    Trump, Brexit will save us from their nightmares, which are only left fantasies at an earlier stage. They refuse to see it, but it`s the left that gloats about being able to kill babies before they`re born…blessed be the fruit indeed!
    Guess the only fruits that they want blessed are gays.


  8. Ian Rushlow says:

    Surely the BBC should always prefix anything to do with George Orwell with the words: “George Orwell, real name Eric Blair”? You know, like they do with Tommy Robinson.
    Putting aside the chutzpah of the partial quote accompanying the statue, it is worth remembering that Orwell was actually a BBC employee for two years, so it’s not outrageous that they mark this fact.


    • Nibor says:

      BBC , originally the British Broadcasting COMPANY , changed for reasons to British Broadcasting CORPORATION , also known as the Beeb , Aunty , and BBC .

      Has other aliases , such as TV licensing , BBC Worldwide Sales , etc .
      Tries to keep at arms length any actual contact or proximity to members of the public when strongarming by contracting out to other gangs such as the Capita mob . Who also sub out the threat demands .
      This organisation is known to have high friends in government , especially when Labour , and tries to rig elections and referendums . Has tried to disable opponents by using disabled people . Accuses Putin of rigging elections .

      Be particularly on guard if you are of any of the following ;British , English , male , wage earner , middle class , patriotic , conservative with a small c , traditional , law abiding , property owning but not if Neckar Island , tolerant , older than university age , libertarian , Catholic , self made rich unless you started in drugs and own Neckar Island , or just feel ordinary .


  9. G says:

    In context.
    I had this weird experience some years ago with Apple. Being a classical music “Nerd” I needed a medium by which I could play back my favourite pieces and I needed to be able to load those. Exploring, I found an Apple product, I cannot remember the designation of the item. It seemed to fit the bill if you accepted “I tunes” which is the Mohamed in relation to Allah of the ideology. I had so much trouble with the product in terms of play back, I approached Apple for assistance. Being of the older generation, I recall the religious fanatics of the 50’s and 60’s who, mindblowingly were able to quote religious text whatever your counter argument. I recall that my dealings with Apple resulted in my conclusion that Apple staff were no different to those religious zealots. How can one company achieve this religious fervour?
    I disposed of the item and have never ever considered an Apple product since. Read into this what you will.


    • Broadcasting-on-Behalf-of-the-Caliphate says:

      G: Read into this what you will.

      The techniques of propaganda and obfuscation have been much studied and are now well known. They are made use of by many many different organisations and institutions, in selling and in defending their products and services.


  10. Richard Pinder says:

    I think the rise in sales of 1984 can be positively linked to the Fake news stories on the BBC about Russia, provided by MI6 officers and Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd, in their attempts to support the swamp in America. First in a failed attempt to stop Trump becoming President by producing a fake dossier on Trump and Russia, so as to spy on his campaign to try to find real dirt. And now to generate Russiaphobia as a way to cover their tracks.

    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear”

    The problem with that is the Mensa article called “BBC Censorship”

    In this case we have the BBC not exercising “the right to tell people what they do not want to hear” because the BBC is censoring the information that people do not know about, so we don’t know if they want to hear it, or not?

    In fact I cannot recall ever not wanting to hear anything that the BBC has taken the liberty to say to me. And if I didn’t like what the BBC had said to me, it was because it was a lie. An example was when the BBC said that its Climate science censorship policy was implemented on the advice of a seminar comprising 28 of the ‘the best scientific experts’. And then scientific experts found out that there wasn’t a single causational climate scientist present at that BBC seminar.


    • fakenewswatcher says:

      Richard- If you are going to Russia to watch the footie, I do hope you listened to the lengthy health warnings by our beloved broadcaster today, and are taking suitable precautions eg suit of armour, water purification tablets, guide on how and when to smile, etc
      And careful with door handles…


    • TrueToo says:

      Richard Pinder,

      I think the rise in sales of 1984 can be positively linked to the Fake news stories on the BBC about Russia…

      That is just so much more likely than Seaton’s conclusion that sales in the US are increasing out of fear of Trump.


  11. Oaknash says:

    I have a much simpler take on the BBC statue of Orwell outside a BBC building. I think you have to remember that the organisation is infested with elitist “Common Purpose” droids who look down their noses at the rest of us and expect us prolls to lap up any half baked suggestion they deign to feed us.

    With the Orwell statue – I think the message they are trying to send out is that because they have put up a statue of Orwell they fully support what Orwell was trying to tell us and could not possibly be associated with Orwells warnings

    They used used the same in infantile trick when they were trying to set themselves up as the arbiter of fake news. “How could you possibly think that we are pedal-ling broadcasting bull shit ourselves when we are the trusted ones that decide what is fake or not – Oh yeah!

    I think what what this demonstrates is the total arrogance and lack of self awareness of this corrupt organisation which should have disbanded man years ago.


    • TrueToo says:


      With the Orwell statue – I think the message they are trying to send out is that because they have put up a statue of Orwell they fully support what Orwell was trying to tell us and could not possibly be associated with Orwells warnings

      I think that’s a valid interpretation of their motivation.


  12. Richard Pinder says:

    I also recall an incident when the BBC’s official historian was caught rewriting the history of the BBC. I presume it was Jean Seaton.

    She wrote that the BBC had to keep turning down requests from Margaret Thatcher, to appear on the Jimmy Savile Show.

    It was discovered later that Thatcher wanted to appear on the Jimmy Young Show, on Radio 2, at lunchtime.


  13. Guest Who says:

    Thank you for the credit, but I merely repeated what someone a while ago had posted. Sadly I cannot recall who.

    That said, I was intrigued that Nick Robinson threw and still throws the highest of high dudgeon wobblies if BBC impartiality is ever questioned, and indeed at one point had this quote pinned on his twitter timeline to use as some bizarre defence tactic. Saying stuff, and having statues, etc, does not mean you or your employers actually practice what is preached, Nick. That explains if does not excuse the complaints system labyrinth and default exemption to almost any FOI on the basis that the BBC might not like the answers it has to give. Hence the public does not get to hear them. Ironic really doesn’t cover it.

    That pinned tweet did not last, perhaps because some folk were prone to linking to it when he and his colleagues most definitely went/go into full BBC ‘ediotorial integrity’ mode, especially with the not mentioning anything that the BBC narrative cannot handle. A lot.


  14. fakenewswatcher says:

    I’m still searching for my copy of Herbert Marcuse’s ‘One Dimensional Man’, which I studied in ’69 (a good year, as the song says). A lefty all the way, there is nevertheless much of Marcuse that I agreed with, and still do.
    But the essence is of the book describes the one dimension, which is ‘everywhere’. Then it was ‘respectability’. Today, this one dimension is Political Correctness.
    There is no better illustration of the totalitarian mindset. So, if the present day is Orwellian, it is equally Marcusian.
    The totalitarian mindset is focused on enforcing its ‘values’ everywhere: in the MSM, academia, churches, you name it.
    You can take any issue you like, the PC mindset won’t tolerate anyone who doesn’t fall in line. It worships concepts like ‘human rights’ and ‘equality’, but it will also define what those terms mean and how they are to be applied.
    Not even the Rule of Law has any meaning (oh yes, lip service). Take Mutti Merkel, for instance; she’s broken a lot of laws, but this matters not, for the slavish devotion of MSM, the corporate and financial world, many of the smaller EU members etc. etc. are assured. Yup the law IS blind. Police? All on board. And yes, she can be Prime Minister.
    In the name of the two things I mentioned, and the way they are defined, the law is simply swept aside.
    Keep your eyes on Northern Ireland. It is suddenly out of step with the One Dimension. Sounds like the Supreme Court will be used to whip it into line. I could say a lot about the border issue, but I don’t have the time.
    Back to Orwell; the abuse of language by the PC world is wonderful to behold. Not a day passes that I don’t marvel at it. Last night I listened to a former Toronto police chief, explaining why it is good to legalise cannabis in Canada. A perfect example. (But I suspect if you take out a fag, you could be done).
    When you think of how the term ‘Right’ has been converted to a term of abuse, rather than describing a set of political ideals, you get the picture. Believe in the nation state? You’re pretty ‘right-wing’. Think it should have borders that can be enforced? Possibly you’re ‘far-right’. Would like to still recognise the country you grew up in? That could make you ‘extreme right’.
    You virtually don’t hear the term ‘left’ or ‘extreme left’, it does not feature in One Dimensional vocab. ‘Liberalism’ no longer concerns itself with freedom. In reality, it is subject to One Dimensional conversion: it’s concern is with ‘equality’. So what does ‘socialism’ concern itself with? Not the worker, I don’t think. It’s a sort of warm, fuzzy, cuddly thing. To the extent that anyone still thinks about what it means, well it’s simply aglow with feeling good…
    Stalin, Mao, PolPot? Weren’t they a bit nasty? Probably extreme right, then.
    So, who ‘owns’ Orwell? You tell me. Happy to listen.


    • TrueToo says:


      I’m going to put up an Orwell quote above the line on those very issues.


  15. Nibor says:

    ” Tell people what they do not want to hear ”

    Well Beeb I don’t want to give you any money , you’re a bloated out of date organisation that is not loved by everyone and you’re a bigoted , lying , two faced , gramsci riddled bullying troughing inadequate indolent senile [email protected]$^@*>$ .
    And I’ll also add childish , sycophantic , condescending .
    I also want to say you’re out of touch , crowd hugging herd mentality pompous idiots .
    You’re also immoral , feckless obsessive racist half wits .
    I’ve also noticed you’re disloyal , traitorous supine retards .
    And you’re vicar of bray air headed lumpen dullards .

    My Thesaurus is missing so I’m lost for words to tell how much I wanted to add more .


  16. Eddy Booth says:

    am I the only one who knows how to add a photo?
    They even made him look homosexual with that limp wristed- teapot stance ,
    !984’s news/propaganda department The Ministry of Truth (ie lies) was based on the BBC.


    • BigBrotherCorporation says:

      It’s an appalling statue, the sculptor hasn’t even got the basic proportions right (look at the left arm, for example, the upper arm is too long, and the forearm too short), the posture is all wrong (out of balance), the creases in the suit are in the wrong places, and the hands are too small… and yes, they have made him look exceedingly camp – intentional? No, incompetence I’d say considering the rest, but that’s what comes of employing the one and only: blind, Bacon Lettuce and Tomato (BLT), transexual, Nigerio-Rohinga sculptor I guess.


    • Broadcasting-on-Behalf-of-the-Caliphate says:

      You can be sure the commissioning committee at the BBC belly laughed when they developed ideas of what the statue should look like and came up with this.

      The BBC, what insincere feckers they are.


    • Thatcherrevolutionary says:

      When are you going to get it ?
      They hate us


  17. Al Shubtill says:

    This would have been a far more apt quote from Orwell, particularly in view of its location.

    “The only time the English see the writing on the wall, is when their backs are up against it.”

    Words for these times and the ones yet to come for our descendants.


    • TrueToo says:

      Al Shubtill,

      “The only time the English see the writing on the wall, is when their backs are up against it.”

      That’s neat. Only problem is, when your back is against the wall, you’re facing the wrong way to read the writing!


  18. Guest Who says:

    And this morning, the bbc team finds time for…


  19. lojolondon says:

    We all know that 1984 was based on Orwell’s experiences working at the BBC.
    Who else would refer to a ‘violent Muslim paedophile rape gang’ – as ‘men accused of grooming’??


  20. Lucy Pevensey says: