Hev and me outside BBC New Broadcasting House, attending a recording of The Real Comedy Controllers which will be on 4Extra next month. And it was this week that I had a bit of a BBC rant on Facebook. It went like this.
Jan 23rd: A thread I've joined in with prompted my first rant of the day. I have a friend who, thanks to a post about not paying his TV licence, is now the cheerleader for libertarians who've joined the discussion piling in with their hate for the BBC. I was raised by and love the BBC. Somehow we've reached a state where, squeezed between millennials who don't watch TV, and an older generation who've been led by Murdoch and others to believe £150 a year for the BBC is an unfair poll tax, while £50 a month for Sky is some sort of benevolent donation, we're facing a BBC that won't just dwindle and die, it'll be actively destroyed by the people it raised. Ironically many of the people saying these things have holidayed abroad and seen other countries TV, especially the States, and think somehow that would be better than what we've had in Britain all my life. Well I hope you enjoy your radio landscape that's all Heart and TalkSport, TV that gives you 30 ad free minutes out of every hour, and the majority of that TV being run by the people who gave us The Sun and Fox News. Good luck with that. I'm happy to have been one of the generation who'll be able to say we lived through The BBC Years, 1922 - 2022. RIP.
What'll happen to PBS in the States when the BBC has died? For 40 years PBS had been made up of cheap talk shows interspersed with BBC dramas. I guess now it'll be cheap talk shows interspersed with cheaper talk shows.
Oh yes, there's always Netflix. That commercially unsustainable bubble that will never burst, cos what commercially unsustainable bubble has ever burst before?
The post prompted 140 odd likes, and some good comments. Here's a selection.
Leonard O'Grady American TV consists of an endless torrent of horseshit pumped out under pressure and heavily laced with ads that make about 40% of runtime, with a few pearls amongst the dross. All for about $200 per month. It's unspeakably tiresome and we're cutting our cable- I seriously miss the Beeb and never cease to be amazed by the breath and depth of their content by comparison- probably the best value for money for a TV package anywhere.
Stuart Robinson I think what has also got a lot of people questioning the licence fee is the increasingly obvious right wing/anti-left bias in BBC news coverage.
Kev Sutherland If all they watch is the news, and they think the BBC is the most biased of that news, then I'd be intrigued to see what other news they're getting. TalkSport? Sky News? Al Jazeera? Or could it be the echo chamber of their like-minded friends on social media, which leads right wingers to think the BBC is left wing, and left-wingers to think the BBC is right wing. Always has (read about Harold Wilson v the BBC in the 60s) always has (read about Thatcher v the BBC in the 80s) always has (read about Churchill v the BBC in the 1920s - yes nearly 100 years ago the government set the tradition of the incumbent thinking the BBC has got it in for them) always has (read about Blair v the BBC in the 2000s) and always will do.
Jason Cobley Look at the BBC objectively and you see that the news does have a right wing bias. Problem is, we don't seems to have a broadcaster of news in this country that doesn't.
Mike Donaldson Funnily enough, I read day in, day out on other media websites that the BBC has a left-wing bias.
Will Dawbarn It's regularly accused of both right wing and left wing bias. Which I think suggests it does a pretty good job of being neutral.
Jason Cobley The issue with Question Time isn't the guest balance. It's the way that Dimbleby repeatedly cuts off left wing guests and gives more latitude to others, often reinforcing them with his own opinions. He also favours more right wing questioners from the audience. It's demonstrable. You only need to watch it to see it.
Kev Sutherland I feel that would be bias confirmation on your part Jason, but then I would say that. Only the stats, collected objectively, are worth a damn. We have to avoid "facts based on opinions". So far in this thread we've had stats showing the Beeb is right wing and stats (albeit from a site called "BiasedBBC") showing the Beeb is left wing. We need more facts, and must beware only liking those that support our own thesis. Every time, whoever we are. (And remember, I'm me, and think I'm always right!)
Mike Donaldson Here's an article by Allison Pearson from two years ago that quotes a number of Telegraph readers who believe that QT is far too left-wing. It does look like there's at least some bias-confirmation at work... http://www.telegraph.co.uk/.../Allison-Pearson-Baying...
Neil Brand Well said, Kev...
Alan Francis I like the BBC, i've worked for it and i'my grateful for opportunities it has given me. It has let itself down in its news bias recently, and I don't like the constant fawning over the Royal Family. But it still remains the best public broadcaster anywhere in the world. We should cherish it.
Jonathan T Jester I think the BBC needs SERIOUS reform. I also think a private public partnership can work as in Channel 4, I wouldn't want it scrapped. I would want to see it stop producing "commercial" work. I would like to see the script unit reintroduced.
Kev Sutherland Can you have one without the other? Train people to write Eastenders and Not Going Out, but don't produce Eastenders or Not Going Out?
Frank Plowright There's what's in effect a script unit in Scotland with the Comedy Unit, and the jobbies they produce is appalling. Occasionally quality like Still Game and Burnistoun (in places) slips out, but having a script unit is not a guarantee.
Kev Sutherland You can't grow flowers without manure.
Sam Morgan Don't forget the BBC's amazing radio output. The licence fee is truly brilliant value for money!
Jonathan T Jester its not amazing.. we have ONE spoken word channel and about 7 music channels, and one repetitive superficial news radio channel. I think it is a poor return.
Sam Morgan Actually 2 national spoken word stations (5Live) + hundreds of local radio stations + Welsh speaking, Urdu, Celtic, etc. All without adverts. All 24 hours. What WOULD it take to be amazing in your opinion?
Stephen Waller Quality ad-free TV, Radio and Web services for £150 a year is a ridiculous bargain. I am constantly baffled why people have it in for the Beeb.
Lynne McGregor I think it's because they have no choice in the matter. Even if you only watch live sport on Sky and nothing else you are still forced to pay for the BBC. If £150 truly is 'ridiculously great value' people will pay. If they don't...well that also tells you something. It's like being asked to pay car tax when you don't drive a car.
Rocio Cano Do you have kids? Then your kids will have benefitted massively from BBC content. And I'm not even going into outreach ane training programmes
Wullie Russell Lynne McGregor: your argument is weird. Who would pay any tax if they didn't have to?
Stuart Mitchell I view that the BBC as one of those things a bit like my taxes going to pay for things that it's unlikely I'll see direct value for but which improves society on the whole. TBH I would pay my license fee for radio 4 alone. Also to those who say they never watch any BBC, do you also never listen to the radio stations either, also worth remembering without the BBC their would be 2 effects on your Sky, 1) without the BBC to go up against the quality would drop and 2) your prices would go up to cover the general infrastructure payments the BBC currently cover.
Vicky Stonebridge i certainly haven't been raised by Murdoch. I just believe in a sovereign nations right to self determination, which was woefully undermined by both the BBC and the Newspapers ( murdoch & otherwise ) at the time. I wasn't raised on the BBC there are chunks of my youth when no Telly reception was available, or I chose not to watch it. Which is why it really is no hardship to break the addiction.
Kev Sutherland I appreciate I come from a 50-something, England-based, TV-and-radio addicted background so I am inevitably biased. It may only be my Baby Boomer generation that was so cossetted by the BBC. I listened solely to Radio 1 through my teens, graduated to Radio 4 in my 20s, and now have a radio diet of Radios 6, 4, 4 Extra and 2, with a tiny proportion of podcasts. I have still, to this day, never been able to tolerate radio with adverts - not just because of the ads, but because of the quality of the stations. Yes even XFM, or whatever it's called itself since people outside London have been able to hear it.
Sean Mason The BBC doesn't just create quality drama, comedy, entertainment and documentaries. It doesn't just create a wide range of radio output on a global, national and local level. It doesn't just provide more opportunities for new writers and talent than any other organisation. It also develops technology and sets trends in production. The iPlayer changed the way we watch TV. I had Sky for two years. Apart from one or two shows I don't miss it. I certainly don't miss the 57 quid hole in my pocket each month.
Is the BBC perfect? No. Is it vital and worth fighting for? Always.
Darryl Cunningham Libertarians are idiots. Fact.
Leonard O'Grady My wife put it best: "Republicans who want to smoke weed"
Dave Shelton The BBC, for all its faults, is a marvel, a wonder, and a bargain.
Ian Robinson "The BBC should be more like Netflix" Like this, perhaps?
Edward Knight The best programmes on ITV were The South Bank Show, The World at War and University Challenge.
Hazel Hall Today I have been treated superbly by an NHS doctor and swam in in a council-funded swimming pool for a minimal charge. I am now about to watch BBC television, and will go to bed with a book borrowed from the public library. For this I pay taxes and a TV licence fee - worth every penny.
Boabie Menzies I once was a huge backer of the BBC, and especially defended them for their natural history programming, but they're lying, corrupt toads. Fuck them.
Andy Stenhouse I love and watch a lot of BBC (Sherlock, Dr. Who never miss) but it is the news bias that is diving me 'mentol' BBC News has become the propaganda wing of the F##king Tory Party! Grrrrrrrrr
Wil Hodgson Because now you can find a news source to suit any political agenda you already have, many people get the arsehole with anything remotely balanced because it suits them better to bury their head in a load of tin foil hat shit. The BBC is neither left nor right wing really but because it doesn't lean too far one way, right wingers think it's left wing and left wingers think it's right wing. It can't win basically
Gary Smith Abso-f***ing-lutely!!! Well said Kev!
Raymond-Kym Suttle Perfectly stated! I especially love your astute observation about £150 p.a. vs £50 a month.
Ian Ellery I still pay my TV licence even though I live in Malta, because I watch iPlayer via a VPN service.
Peter Cartoon My favourite comment was on a phone in on radio 2. The caller said they should do away with the BBC as she only listened to Radio 1 and that was a commercial station.
Kev F Sutherland, as well as writing and drawing for The Beano, Marvel, Doctor Who et al, runs Comic Art Masterclasses in schools, libraries and art centres - email for details, and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. View the promo video here.
Feb 15 - Buxton Pavilion Arts Centre Studio
Feb 17 & 18 6.50pm - Kayal, Leicester Comedy Fest
March 9 - Aberystwyth Arts Centre
March 15 & 16 - Dram! Glasgow Com Fest
March 23 - The Bill Murray, London
Apr 6 - Victoria Theatre Halifax
Apr 8 - Rondo Bath
Apr 13 - Hexham Queen's Hall
Apr 22 - Swindon Arts
Apr 27 - Stroud Subscription Rooms
Apr 28 - Merlin Theatre Frome
Apr 29 - Perth Concert Hall
May 1 - Chiddingstone Castle Kent
May 5 - Artrix Bromsgrove
May 6 - Stafford Gatehouse
May 13 (4.30pm) & May 14 (5.30pm) Komedia Brighton
May 19 - Carriageworks Leeds
May 26 - Aberdeen May Fest
June 2 - Eden Ct Inverness
June 15 - Crescent Arts, Belfast
June 17 - Dalkey Festival, Dublin
June 23 - Hertford Comedy Festival
June 24 - Ludlow Fringe