It’s often said that when someone emerges into the world from university and likes what they see, they will go into the City or into business and they will devote their lives to making money and going to parties and having fun. However, if they leave university and think the world is all broken and full of injustice, they will try to change the system. Which means they will add a rainbow emoji to their Twitter bio and join the BBC.
Of course, in recent weeks we have been told over and over again that this is emphatically not the case. Many angry, red-faced people have pointed out that the present chairman of the BBC is a Tory party donor and that Tim Davie, the director-general, once stood as a Conservative candidate in the local council elections in Hammersmith & Fulham. The message, then, is clear. At the very top, the Beeb is a festering maggot pit run by the bastard love children of Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Gekko.
That’s why Gary Lineker was temporarily stood down — not because he’d broken some weird impartiality clause in his contract but because he’d dared to challenge this government’s tireless resolve to treat immigration as if it’s basically a big game of snakes and ladders, and bounce everyone who lands on a beach in Kent straight off to Rwanda. “You can’t work for the BBC with views like that, Big Ears, so bugger off.”
Then there was Fiona Bruce. When someone on Question Time suggested that Stanley Johnson was a wife-beater, she interrupted to say that his friends had said he’d only done it once. Now, we all know she did this because she was legally required to do so. But, according to the mob, the ghost of Keith Joseph was transmitting his thoughts into her earpiece from the BBC’s throne room.
The mob, however, is wrong. Yes, at this precise moment of history it’s possible that the two people at the top of the BBC might at some point in their past have voted Conservative, but what about everyone else? All the other 22,000 people involved in running this broadcasting giant? The army that creates and writes and presents all the shows it produces? Well, I worked at the BBC for more than 25 years, and I can tell you that almost everyone I met was redder than the end of a dog’s lipstick.
I was once told when visiting the Simon Mayo show that I would have to leave my copy of The Spectator outside as “extremist material” was not allowed in the Radio 5 Live offices. And then, while I was waiting to go on The One Show, a producer said that I had to agree with the public sector strikes that were happening that day or it would be “awkward”.
I know someone who was told to take down his Union Jack because it was “offensive”, and I was asked to remove my poster of Mrs Thatcher because it was upsetting people who walked past. I did, and replaced it with a picture of Kate and Wills, which somehow made them even angrier.
Have things changed since then? Well, if you are a Conservative voter and you are employed by the BBC, write to me and let me know. I’m not expecting a sudden surge in demand for stamps.
You may argue that this right-on, left-leaning wokery is hidden from viewers — but if you know what to look for, it really isn’t. Yes, in an item on Countryfile last weekend airtime was indeed given to a landowner who has to put up with the wild camping enthusiasts who turn up on his farm with their stupid tents and their sense of entitlement. But he was grilled so fiercely that at the end, the word “Breville” was clearly visible on his forehead. Whereas the beardies who think property is theft were treated like bereaved parents after a car crash.
The news? Sure, each item, taken on its own merit, is balanced, but the choice of those items is usually straight from the Guardian playbook: climate change, cost of living crisis, Tory sleaze. And now the weather, followed by our exciting new series, Saving Lives in Leeds.
Comedy? Sorry, comedy’s too risky for the BBC these days. Someone might be the butt of a joke, and that could cause all sorts of upset and mental health issues.
Remember, what everyone on every BBC platform fears more than anything is a Twitter backlash, so to try to keep that festival of left-wing madness happy, they have to be even more left wing and even more right-on. And they have to make sure that every show is pitch-perfect to the BLT+ community and the ethnic minority communities and the community communities, and when you’re thinking defensively like that, the concept of informing and educating and entertaining pretty much goes out of the window. Could I do Top Gear there now? Not a chance.
They’ve even got problems this month with Sir Attenborough. The Beeb has had to fight off claims that the final programme of his new Wild Isles series was written by some sixth-formers who got so carried away with their woke agenda, it will only be shown on iPlayer.
Naturally, all of this makes the vast majority of the BBC’s increasingly aged viewers jolly cross. They are forced to pay £53.50 a year — and a lot more if they want to watch in colour — and they get absolutely nothing that even remotely interests them in return.
I feel your pain, but as I’m the sort of person who emerged into the world as a young man and decided to grab all that it had to offer with both hands and milk the bastard dry, I’ve come up with a way to make the BBC fun. Start at six in the evening, and every time someone with an earnest face says something earnest to an earnest person in the community, take a drink. I guarantee by 7.30 you’ll be in hysterics, and by eight you’ll be fast asleep.