This week our columnist stands up for our beleaguered national broadcaster...
Very few people like to admit that we actually live in quite a good country.
Whether it’s fiercely liberal people who are too frightened to praise their country in case they’re misconstrued as a mad nationalist, or violently conservative people who believe that Britain’s been on a downward curve since the introduction of the nanny-state legislature in the Magna Carta, there’s an inferiority complex in the modern British psyche.
This is perhaps why a joyless section of the public loves to pick apart the very things that make Britain such a tolerable place to live, as if they’re seeking to justify why they constantly wear the expression of a man celebrating Christmas in prison.
The NHS infuriates them because their doctor had the gall to be fifty minutes late after treating an inconsiderate hypochondriac with his skin falling off. The education system exasperates them as they think it’s producing a “wasted generation” much less intelligent than theirs, ignoring the fact that exam results have risen steadily for years to protect their views which are about as well-informed as those of a pre-enlightenment vole. But perhaps the most baffling irk of all is the piss-blizzard of abuse reserved for the BBC.
This week, lumpen disc-jockey Terry Wogan was the latest person to criticise Auntie Beeb, claiming that the top stars are overpaid for the services they provide. Not a new claim to read in the press, but Terry Wogan criticising his own corporation was treated with the same amount of fervour as if the Daily Mail were to find someone from an ethnic minority calling for his own deportation.
There was also a recent uproar in some papers over how many people the BBC sent to Glastonbury and the World Cup, with the trips being dismissed as “jollies”. The main outcome of this was my realisation that, if I’m ever trying to sound furious, I should never use the vocabulary of a Victorian nanny.
The worst of it, though, is that every second of the BBC’s output has been picked over and spluttered at by fun-guzzlers since the infamous ‘Sachsgate’ in 2008. By all accounts, it’s impossible to say anything controversial on the BBC anymore for fear of attracting the hellish wrath of the kind of people who have Ofcom on speed-dial. The kind of people who genuinely miss Woolworths. The kind of people who buy commemorative plates for royal celebrations. You know who I mean.
Of course, the BBC is obviously not above criticism as it’s a service that we all pay for (or, at least, have to pretend that we pay for in published pieces of writing) but the extent of ire it causes is bewildering.
It is, quite simply, an incredible entity. It provides an enormous number of jobs in a creative industry which sorely lacks opportunities. It provides essential unbiased news coverage. It’s set up television and radio channels to suit all but the most depraved and diabolical of tastes. It has a website which is so expansive and informative that, if one man held all its information in his head, the solar system would realign around his skull. It is a cornerstone of Britain.
Perhaps Jonathan Ross is paid a bit too much and perhaps there are a few too many people in South Africa, but the BBC has a budget to use which is comfortably providing an essential service to all of us. Rest assured that no Ofcom complainer would choose to live without it.
The criticism it receives are the warblings of the traditional British misery glutton who complains about the NHS, the weather, the football and anything else they think of when they trap an unsuspecting victim into a conversation.
It’s just a shame for the BBC that an Ofcom receptionist is often the only one who will listen.
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Image courtesy of adambowie on Flickr.