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Blog Posted in avatar   Greer Nicholson's Blog

BBC Director General - Search for a Bureaucrat

By Greer Nicholson
Posted May 28, 2012 in Entertainment
By the time you read this, the British Broadcasting Corporation will probably have picked a new Director General. I only became aware this search was happening because the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, suggested a Conservative Party member or sympathiser should be selected this time.
The implication of BoJo's remarks is that the BBC usually picks lefties.
I'd like to reassure Boris. I've looked through the profiles of all of the known candidates for the job and I am reasonably certain they have all been far too busy taking taxis between meetings for the last 10 years to have any interest in politics at all. If they're lefties, they are hiding it better than Anthony Blunt.
Boris, the list makes for as depressing a bunch of people as you have running most key sections of City Hall. Really, bureaucracy, meetings, lunches and occasional group bad decisions are as safe with any of these people as they are with you and yours.
If you are worried about the occasional "pink-tinged" newscast, set your mind at ease. Hardly anybody is watching and, on the rare occasions they are, they're playing Angry Birds on their phones at the same time. Nothing on the news sinks in with any of us in Britain nowadays because we have no attention span after a decade of watching reality TV.
Apparently, a criterion for job success at the BBC is "shiny floor" experience. I had no idea what this meant until I Googled it. It's a reference to "Strictly Come Dancing" and other "popular" reality-type shows.
How depressing is that in the country that made Chaucer, Shakespeare and Milton? Or Shaw or Orwell? Nowadays, Stephen Fry is our definition of "intellectual" and he seems to prove this by being on every BBC game show going and speaking about things I really could not care less about that are totally irrelevant to daily life in this country.
On British TV, intelligence is defined by sneering at those who are not on TV or are on TV and stupid or vulnerable.
I pay my £145.50 TV Licence each year, which all goes to the BBC. In theory, this is so they have "no advertising". In fact, product placement is just as evident on BBC shows as anywhere else in TV land.The breaks between shows are filled with endless plugs for yet more awful soap operas and reality TV shows.
I used to love TV and,particularly, the BBC. The few things I watch now are on BBC 4, a marginal channel and they tend to be Scandinavian police tales with imagination and flair.
I won't bore you with the full listings for BBC TV tonight but take my word for it: it's grim. Wedding season at a stately home, yet more about racism in football (and I'll bet they don't solve it or do more than sensationalise thugs) and grim soap operas. A tiny bit of nature, a dollop of science and then endless male talking heads all born in same factory in West London.
All these people will agree with each other about the consumer goods they covet and the cars they long to own.
Yes, I am female and I really do wish my brain were wired to some less independent state of being. When did creativity in BBC TV go out of fashion? Somewhere around Big Brother 3?
I cannot imagine anyone would approach me about the job. There is so much that is unsuitable in my background.
1) I watched a lot of TV until a couple of years ago. I can't believe any of the candidates for the top job in British broadcasting ever watches the actual shows.Or ever did.
2) I actually know and care about digital breakthroughs and will talk excitedly about women running businesses from smart phones in Costa Rica and whole new industries growing up in Kenya - again, due to smart phones. This will not be the well-rehearsed correct answer that the winning candidate will give, which will basically be balm to the quixotic notion that Britain is the centre of anything, other than Royal celebrations and fashion.
3) I have run businesses of my own. I am certain they wouldn't like the practical way in which I budget and share decisions. They would think this is not our sort of thing at all. What, no committee involvement? Never? Not possible.
4) I speak a number of languages. Given how badly languages are taught in Britain, I doubt any of the candidates speak more than teensy bits of restaurant French.
5) I actually love TV and grew up at a time when TV could change strategy and policy of governments.
6) My phone was never hacked by a newspaper, which makes me a non-entity.
I watched "We'll Take Manhattan" last night and, while I have no idea how true the story it portrayed is, I was quite impressed by the young David Bailey and Jean Shrimpton taking on the whole lot of posh Britain, in the early 1960s, and joining other talented young people in changing society.
Since then, we have drifted back to the most depressing level of pandering to what a few people living in a rarefied atmosphere think. They probably use the word "cool" at their clubs as they make little parentheses with their fingers, in the air, to denote irony.
There's a really bad recession going on here. Every family I know has been clobbered by it, other than the very rich and secure.
Does this get onto the BBC? Hardly ever, unless a crime is committed.
So, Boris, rest secure. I am certain that within a few weeks, you'll be having a lovely lunch with the new DG and, as your palate and ego are stroked, you will be reassured that there will always be a place on TV for your personality.
Meanwhile, I'll start pondering whether I actually want to own a TV and pay the licence fee any more. I am lucky to blog on movies. And even the worst movie, nowadays, is better than 95% of what the BBC shows.
Please don't tell me that Radio 4 is wonderful. I listen to the top 40 on Radio 1 and there are occasional things on 2 and 4 that I listen to, but I grew up in a radio-listening house. Honestly, people, radio is going the way of newspapers and the dodo.
Is it just me or is there anybody else out there who cares about what ordinary people think and do and the outrageous pressures on them in the face of public and private cuts.
Please, Montreal, can we borrow some of your striking students? They got 300,000 out on the streets on May 23rd. Surely you can spare us a few to show us how to rise up and say "no" to this depressing world order that is Britain today? Sadly, the BBC is complicit in just how annoying the current situation is.

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