COULD the BBC be more woefully out of touch with the mood of the nation?
Yesterday Auntie scrapped the free TV licence for the over-75s and our alleged national broadcaster could not have picked a worse moment to kick the elderly in the head.
This has been a mercilessly cruel year to be old in this country.
It is the old who have borne the brunt of this health emergency. It is the old who have been most vulnerable to Covid-19. It is the old who have often been brutally separated from their families.
And it is — overwhelmingly — the old who have died.
Heartbreakingly, quarantine rules sometimes dictated that the elderly were even buried without their loved ones by their graveside.
This was the time for the corporation to demonstrate that it has some understanding of the price that has been paid by the old in 2020.
This was the year for the BBC to reach out to its most loyal viewers. This was a chance for the BBC to restore its diminished, degraded reputation and to start acting like the voice of the nation.
And Auntie blew it.
The BBC is now pathetically disconnected from the nation it is meant to represent.
Scrapping the free licence for the over-75s — and criminalising them if they fail (or simply forget) to fork out £157.50 — is also an act of self-harm by the BBC.
Who does the BBC imagine are its most devoted viewers? Who do they think still has some love in their heart for all the BBC once stood for? The young?
They do not even watch TV. The BBC doesn’t mean a damn thing to the young.
And even those of us who grew up with the BBC — and I am old enough to remember when the Hairy Cornflake was widely considered a cool dude — struggle to find any affection in our heart for the corporation.
It is not just that the BBC has no respect for the generations who have stuffed its coffers for all their adult lives.
Increasingly, our national broadcaster acts as though it doesn’t like our country.
The BBC brags that it has 468million viewers around the world, including 60million in India.
How much do these cherished viewers contribute to the licence fee? Nothing.
It is the British muggins who give the BBC £4billion every year even though the corporation is conspicuously failing in its mission “to act in the public interest, serving all audiences through the provision of impartial, high-quality and distinctive output and services which inform, educate and entertain”.
The BBC — impartial? Not any more.
It is now commonplace for Winston Churchill, our greatest national hero, to be slagged off as a genocidal racist on our publicly funded state broadcaster.
In the space of one week, the BBC twice portrayed Churchill as a murderous bigot because millions of Indians starved at the height of World War Two.
On BBC Radio 4’s Today show, Shashi Tharoor accused Churchill of being “an odious figure of reprehensible views and racist attitudes”.
On BBC’s News at Ten — and its sprawling digital empire — Yogita Limaye held Churchill responsible for genocide. “Millions perished on his watch.”
But many major historians disagree. “Churchill was in London trying to win the Second World War,” says Andrew Roberts, author of Churchill: Walking With Destiny. “He is innocent of all the charges brought against him.”
Where were the voices to defend Churchill as the BBC gleefully dragged his reputation through the dirt? We did not get to hear them on the BBC.
Because the BBC is not impartial any more. And it hasn’t been for years.
Now that so much of our prime entertainment is streamed on Netflix, Amazon Prime and the rest, and so much of our breaking news is consumed online, it would be difficult to make a credible case for the BBC still being awarded £4billion a year even if it was scrupulously impartial.
As the BBC constantly flaunts its own political agenda, the case for the licence fee collapses.
The BBC will never concede that, all things considered, this country has rather a lot to be proud of.
The BBC will tell you how wicked Winston casually consigned millions of Indians to death, but it will never ponder how many more millions of European Jews would have died in the Holocaust without Churchill.
The BBC feels no affection for this country, and no pride in our history and no respect for the people who so dutifully pay their laughably inflated salaries.
But the BBC will not wither away because of Gary Lineker’s fat wad or because of Emily Maitlis’s anti-Tory tweets or because everyone in Broadcasting House still believes that Brexit is the devil’s work.
The reason the BBC in its current £4billion-a-year form is doomed is because it no longer speaks for the nation.
The BBC will tell you that Churchill was a racist but the corporation will never inform you that this country has been a bastion of liberty for a thousand years, confronting — and defeating — tyrants throughout history.
The BBC drones on endlessly about the inequities of the evil British Empire but will never tell you that the British abolished the slave trade before any other nation on earth, and that no Empire in human history was ever dismantled so peacefully, or was so willing to offer its former subjects a home.
And that is all true, too.
But you will never hear it anywhere on the “impartial” BBC.
Designed for success
THESE are hard times for magazines – even great ones.
My beloved Boxing Monthly recently printed its last issue, while music bible Q has also folded.
But Sports Illustrated – featuring Kate Bock, Jasmine Sanders and Olivia Culpo on the cover of its 2020 swimwear issue, above – bucks the trend and is thriving.
I have been staring at that cover for ages but I still can’t work it out.
It's a green light for cyclists
BORIS has got us all riding bicycles, so will bike riders still be allowed to act as if red traffic lights do not apply to them?
The freedom to totally ignore the Highway Code if you are on two wheels feels like the best reason to get a bike.
I’m not convinced.
Your weight has far more to do with the calories you regularly ingest into your body than how you get to work.
Our Prime Minister has been a committed bike rider for more than 20 years.
And when it comes to shedding those unwanted pounds, riding a bike never worked for Boris, did it?
Don't forget past choices, Sir Keir
LABOUR’S new leader Sir Keir Starmer is right to say that the party is “under new management”.
But the new management tried its best to get the old management into power – you know, the friends of Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, the mouth-foaming Marxists, the Jew-baiting anti-Semites.
Starmer seems unafraid of confronting Labour’s extremists.
But it feels like only yesterday they were all on the same side.
STRICTLY A POOR CHOICE
BIG NAMES such as Jessie J and Michelle Keegan, above, are reportedly steering well clear of Strictly Come Dancing because fees aren’t being chucked around with the same old abandon. Budgets have been reduced because of a shorter filming run.
“It’s not worth it for the cash,” an agent told The Sun. “At least they know that if they go on I’m A Celebrity, the pay packet is big, the show is massive and they’ll be appearing alongside genuinely famous people.”
On the downside, they will be expected to eat kangaroo testicles.
That hardly ever happens on Strictly.
Harry hypocrisy latest
PHONING in his latest sermon from Beverly Hills, Prince Harry declares the Covid-battered travel industry must come back greener.
“We need to build back – but we need to build back better,” says Harry.
What is it that makes our jaws drop? The brazen hypocrisy?
The lack of self-awareness?
The sheer stupidity of this private jet-flying prince lecturing other people about being more responsible?
Harry is so green these days he is powered entirely by hot air.
A LESSON FROM ROY
ROY KHARBANDA, 62, has retired from his Southampton corner shop he owns after working every day since 1982 – a total of 13,416 days.
Roy was deeply loved by the community he served, as witnessed by the crowds outside his shop on his last day.
If only the rest of the nation had Roy’s work ethic.
Napoleon called us a nation of shopkeepers. These days we are more like a nation of skivers.
The PM can’t even get Whitehall civil servants to go back to the office.
ON Thursday, our Border Force boats picked up 202 illegal immigrants in the English Channel – a new record.
I understand why human rights render it impossible for us to return these desperate souls to their countries of origin, which on Thursday included Sudan, Yemen and Eritrea.
But why can’t we send them back to the country they just left?
France is not ravaged by war and famine.
The worst that can happen is that you get a stale croissant.
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