Somebody Doesn’t Like the BBC

Last month, B-BBC reader La Cumparista made the following comment on David Vance’s post about a BBC interview with a Man Booker Prize nominee:

I would really like Howard Jacobson to win the Man Booker prize this year. Has he had much publicity on the BBC?

Jacobson is listed with the others on BBC news briefs about the authors on the short list, but only Peter Carey got a special feature, presumably because he had won twice before. I don’t recall Jacobson getting the attention of the other authors by the BBC when they did their special report from the black-tie gala event of the announcement.

In any case, I now have a copy of Jacobson’s winning book, The Finkler Question, in my hand. The story opens up with a passage that is very relevant to this blog. The BBC studiously avoided mentioning this in either of their brief interviews of him as one of those on the short list.

The relevant passage begins on Page 6, when Treslove, the non-Jewish character (one of the trio of friends around whom the book is focused), is mugged while walking home one night. It describes the incident which launches the book’s journey to explore what it means to be Jewish in England today:

He passed the BBC, an institution for which he had once worked and cherished idealistic hopes but which he now hated to an irrational degree. Had it been rational he would have taken steps not to pass the building as often as he did. Under his breath he cursed it feebly – ‘Shitheap,’ he said.

A nursery malediction.

That was exactly what he hated about the BBC: it had infantilised him. ‘Auntie’, the nation called the Corporation, fondly. But aunties are equivocal figures of affection, wicked and unreliable, pretending to love only so long as they are short of love themselves, and then off. The BBC, Treslove believed, made addicts of those who listened to it, reducing them to a state of inane dependence. As it did those it employed. Only worse in the case of those employed – handcuffing them in promotions and conceit, disabling them from any other life. Treslove himself a case in point. Though not promoted, only disabled.



Caught the truly appalling Patricia Hewitt being interviewed by Eddie Mair on PM. This was concerning Peter Mandelson’s suggestion that the legislation bringing about a mandatory requirement for employers to accommodate flexible working hours for all employees with children under 16 be knocked on the head, for a while. The BBC was keen to offer Hewitt this soap-box from which she could witter on about how essential for small business that this provision be activated! Now I can understand that Hewitt is supremely ignorant when it comes to the stress on small business but I thought Eddie Mair should have made the point that any business can operate such flexible hours without draconian legislation making them do so. In the past day we have seen the Labour and Conservative Party offer up ideas as to how business can be given some help in these tough times. I personally think that the Conservative Party’s ideas have been quite good, but seem to have gained little media traction within the BBC, whilst Labour’s whimsies are discussed ad infinitum.

Unequal Life-Chances …

Nick Robinson reports on Harriet Harman’s new National Equality Panel :

She spoke instead of “investigating how “people’s life chances” are impacted by “where they were born, what kind of family they were born into, where they live and their wealth” as well as their gender, race, disability and age.

It does seem so wrong that a child’s life chances are so dependent on who their dad is :

James Naughtie was out covering the Republican National Convention in Minnesota for the Today programme last week.

Meanwhile, I couldn’t help but notice that the name of a certain Andrew Naughtie appeared at the end credits of Newsnight’s coverage of the same event.

Was this a coincidence, I wondered, or could they by any chance be related?

“Ah yes, that is Jim’s son,” says a BBC spokesman when I call.

“He’s one of a number of students we’ve got on work experience at the moment.

“They are all helping out with our election coverage – though I’m not certain how many of them were actually sent to the convention.”

(The Indie piece is by Henry Deedes, grandson of the late William Deedes, former Telegraph editor and newspaper veteran. Can’t say the BBC aren’t conforming to generally accepted industry standards.)

Hat-tip – Peter in the comments.

UPDATE – via DB in the comments, young Master Naughtie reviews the film ‘Rendition’ in the Bristol University paper :

Rendition is a major foreign policy issue for the US since the extent and implications of its use were uncovered in 2002; the torture and human rights abuses that rendition involves have severely tainted the USA’s international reputation …

In these dark times, we need mainstream Hollywood films that will tackle uncomfortable subjects like this head-on and dare to show us that those acting in American interests may not be good people … the shocking truth of Rendition just isn’t enough.


You have to wonder about the type of employee working at the BBC! What prompts this is the news story that suggests a BBC Radio 4 presenter drugged and raped a man he met at a New Year party after inviting him back to see his art collection, a court heard today. Nigel Wrench snorted cocaine with the man at the party in south London and offered him the chance to sit in on his show, the Old Bailey was told. Back at the PM presenter’s flat he poured them both a glass of champagne but when the 26-year-old man took a gulp he realised “not all was well”, a jury heard. Mr Wrench denies the allegations. Now, let’s not go into the specific details here since that is a matter for the Court to deal with. But I wonder has the PM show covered this story? It is always quick enough to publicise the alleged misdeeds of others, so I wonder if this story has been given due prominence on PM?