TWO separate decisions – one profligate, one ridiculous, and each taken by entirely different people – epitomised the way the BBC is run these days.
The first, of course, was the £450,000 given to departing director-general, George Entwistle, after he fell on his own sword before someone snatched it up and skewered him between the shoulder-blades. Entwistle was effectively given his marching orders by John Humphrys, in an interview which relentlessly and systematically dismantled what remained of his reputation, before trampling it in the dust.
Ironically, it was an interrogation of such excoriating brutality that it went some way towards restoring the corporation’s reputation for decent journalism.
But then Lord Patten went and spoiled it all by offering the bumbling, burbling, hapless Entwistle a pay-off twice as large as he was entitled to receive.
No surprise there, because his lordship has been employed by the state for well over 30 years in one capacity or another – and like so many of his ilk, has lost all touch with financial reality.
Like many who have spent most of their adult life supping at the public trough, Patten has no problems being generous with other people’s money.
“Have a couple of hundred thousand extra, old boy. You’ve had some tough breaks, and it’s not real money after all.”
The second example of Beebism at its best was so preposterous it could have been lifted straight from the script of The Thick of It. The day after the DG departed, at a time when the BBC was desperate to rescue some scintilla of self-respect for its news-gathering organisation, it lapsed into pantomime mode.
For the one o’clock news, co-presenter Simon McCoy was on location outside its own Salford HQ, linking to Sian Williams in the studio, while everyone else was door-stepping or interviewing each other to the point of exhaustion.
Meanwhile, open rebellion was fermenting among the Old Untouchables, including Jeremy Paxman, the Dimbleby brothers and Andrew Marr.
Even Patten betrayed the unacceptable level of bureaucracy and multi-layer management within the corporation.
“I was asked to address something called ‘the BBC management group’ one morning,” he said, “and there were well over 100 people there.”
The ‘radical overhaul’ cannot come soon enough.
A minute’s silence for our fine language
FOLLOWING the birth of her first child, my daughter accesses websites where new mums log on to share their experiences and concerns.
She came across the following contribution and passed it on without comment. I reproduce it here for you, while gritting my teeth to stumps.
‘u wudnt bleeve this bt my baby bein naughty made me wna hav anoda 1 2 c if it really is dis bad lol im due in june nw.
‘i fort my baby was like dis coz i breastfed bt i dnt knw i went doctors n he sed jus sit wid her den if dats wt she wants.
‘for 6mnths i dint eat or slp propa.’
A minute’s silence, please, for the crass adulteration of what was once a fine language.