13 August 2012


In Great Britain we have an affectionate nickname for the British Broadcasting Corporation. It's simply "Auntie". When I look back, I can see how the BBC has been as constant in my life as a close family member. It was in the year that I was born that television sales in our country mushroomed ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's coronation. I remember that as a small boy I delighted in  "Andy Pandy", "Bill and Ben" and "The Woodentops" - all courtesy of the BBC.

In my travels around the world, I have never discovered a better provider of television than "Auntie". It is so nice to watch programmes all the way through without the irritating interruption of commercials and that's just one reason why you will very rarely find me watching any other channels. There's no way I would subscribe to "Sky" with its associations with Murdoch and News International. They have stolen so many of the BBC's innovations - achieved over decades.

But my main reason for  writing this post this morning is to praise the BBC for its marvellous and comprehensive coverage of the London Olympics. So much of the camera work was brilliant - from quivering slo-mo arrows at the archery to shots that fell in synchronisation with the high board divers. All sports were covered with technical imagination, passionate and knowledgeable commentary and visual excellence. Expert studio pundits like Michael Johnson and Denise Lewis provided helpful insights into the techniques and pressures of top class athletics.

It was both a sporting and televisual feast and in spite of the horrendous cost of it all, like most true Britons, I am immensely proud of what our country has just presented to the world. I'd rather see our money going to a brilliant Olympic Games than to pointless military confrontation in Afghanistan. The Olympics seem to have lifted the nation and it was kind of the BBC News to shelve many of the usual mournful topics for the duration of the Olympics. The greed of bankers was replaced by Usain Bolt playing up to the camera and economic stagnation was replaced by Sheffield's own golden girl - Jessica Ennis weeping happily on the medal rostrum.

The BBC attracts many knockers - not least the Public School Nasty Party (i.e. The Conservatives) who have regularly accused the organisation of left wing bias. I find that accusation flabbergasting as all my life I have detected something of a right wing public school bias in BBC arts and news programmes. Not surprising when you investigate the social backgrounds of key players at The Beeb. - they tend to hail from the south east having gained their education in the same privileged schools and universities that members of the Public School Nasty Party attended.

But today straight after The Games, British people ought to be immensely proud of the BBC's excellent Olympic coverage and give Auntie a great big smacker on her powdered cheek. It could hardly have been any better. It just goes to show once again what human beings are capable of when they work together in teams to achieve shared goals. Perhaps more impressive than the feats of outstanding athletes, Well done Auntie!


  1. I am proud to say I have worked at the Beeb. Bet you didn't know that YP. It will all be revealed in my autobiography.

  2. I'm happy for you and your countrymen/countrywomen. Truly I am. The Olympics were spectacularly well done (I personally could have done without all the pop music in the opening and closing ceremonies, but that's just me). I don't want to rain on your parade. Self-esteem is good. But as me old mum always said, "Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back."

  3. I agree with every sentiment - the Beeb did a fantastic job of covering so many sports, even if they did get stretched in the commentating department.

    Actually, that was a useful experiment - sports coverage with no pundits and just the sound of the crowd. It could catch on!

  4. The closing ceremony needed someone like graham norton to spice the coverage up a bit.. but like you, I thought they did a grand job!
    claire Balding for PM!!

  5. I watch quite a few recycled British shows that I can get on Hulu. It takes a while to get accustomed to the accent, but the quality is worth it. Well, usually. British scifi (except for Dr. Who) doesn't hold a candle to Australian scifi...compare Jupiter Moon to FarScape.

    American broadcasting has almost been totally successful at convincing people that nothing they hear is the truth. An Auntie would be so much nicer than a Big Brother.

  6. KATHERINE Oh Lord, you worked at The Beeb! I had no idea that you were upper class.
    RHYMES WITH POP I'm not patting my own back - just the busy bees at the BBC.
    SHOOTING TARGETS I wish Peter Kay had been chosen to commentate on the diving!
    JOHN GRAY You mean G.Norton commentating a-la Eurovision? Yes. I think that would have been better -0 a little ironic humour thrown into the mix.
    JAN BLAWAT Whenever I watched TV in America I was disappointed and bombarded by adverts. I'm not a big fan of Dr Who either but I can talk like an American. Hi y'all, cool man, what's up doc Hoover Dam Dubya Eminem Big Mac!

  7. where's my title?
    Earl Gray
    EARL GRAY!!!!

  8. EARL GRAY I apologise for my familiarity and from henceforth shall address his earlship in the appropriately obsequious manner - for as a mere serf of the realm I am not worthy.

  9. I only have one gripe about the BBC coverage of the Olympics and that was to use Trevor Nelson as a commentator on the opening and closing ceremonies..... he was, as we say up north, about as much use as a chocolate teapot!

    As one friend on facebook pointed out during the opening ceremony:
    "Hazel Irvine and Huw Edwards each have 206 tabs open on Wikipedia right now. Trevor Nelson's playing Moshi Monsters."

  10. I read your comment AF, I suddenly realised the 'no chocolate' diet I'm on is having an effect (other than helping me slim down) because I was salivating at the thought of your chocolate teapot...

  11. But how could they relinquish their hold on Bush House? And what of the wanton destruction that awaits that icon of British Television, BBC Television Centre in White City? And for what... rented studios in Salford. I ask you!


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