Reasons to BBC cheerful

January 28, 2012

It’s gloomy. But it’s not all gloomy.

1. Lord Patten’s speech to the Oxford Media Convention earlier this week got headlines because of the reveral of cuts to BBC local radio.

But the speech is worth reading in full. It’s a sincere and dare I say passionate defence of not just the BBC but the very notion of public service and the uplifting possibilities of cultural excellence. I’m tempted to quote the whole thing:

“I remain unashamedly of the view that introducing people to good books, great paintings, or beautiful music – allowing them to better pursue and appreciate their passions and interests – helps to enrich them as individuals and to improve the quality of civic life for all of us…

…Television at its best is a popular art form. It is not absurd to argue that it is the closest we get in modern life to the sort of collective experience that was created by Sophocles or Shakespeare…

…Lord Reith, although he hated television, identified in the earliest days of broadcasting an opportunity to extend this noble artistic lineage.  When he said it was ‘better to over-estimate the mentality of the public than to under-estimate it’, he wasn’t being elitist.  He was being meritocratic…

…Think of the disruptive, challenging, intellectually seditious nature of great art – Goya or Beethoven or Grossman. Think of the wild potency that we celebrate in art and artists, so difficult to fit into any kind of mould.  No wonder Denis Donoghue said, in his Reith lectures on The Arts without Mystery, that ‘there isn’t much point in having the arts at all unless we have them with all their interrogative power. They are not cosy or ornamental.’…

If you work for the BBC and you don’t get even a flicker of excitement from reading this speech, maybe you’re working for the wrong organisation.

2. Jon Jacobs will be known to anyone reading this as “Thoroughly Good”. I found his description of getting out of the BBC bubble and observing the landcape around White City very moving.

3. “Call The Midwife”. And don’t say “I don’t watch that kind of thing”. It’s not Heartbeat. Just watch it.

4. Bearing in mind I’m occasionally on the recieving end of, shall we say, “robust comment” about the BBC’s approach to complaints and feedback , I had to sit down when I read this:

…the BBC is excellent at listening and it has done on this occasion. And its consultation systems are absolutely top notch. Anyone who commented online, as we on the Northerner did, was guided through a simple but comprehensive system.

5. Dave Lee. Dave Lee always cheers me up. Because of this. And this…

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One Response to “Reasons to BBC cheerful”


  1. […] It’s over a year since I wrote a cautiously optimistic blog post about the organisation I work for. […]


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