Beeb haters: be careful about what you wish for. You might just get it

Lovely column by Marina Hyde.

Only this week The Wire’s own Dominic West said that British TV lacked high-end contemporary drama but did costume drama brilliantly – a statement swiftly spun and used as a stick to beat the BBC by the very people who would like nothing more than for most of the corporation’s output to be bonnet- and corset-wrapped. Fortunately, by yesterday morning the mother of all anti-BBC bandwagons was fully operational again, as Ofcom finally handed down its fine to the BBC for the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross Sachsgate business, allowing Beeb bashers to once more swarm the airwaves and internets to rail against the monstrous licence fee.

Have any of these people seen the likes of Moment of Truth, one wondered idly, in which our hero Mike Darnell hooked up semi-witting participants to lie detectors, whereupon they were asked “Do you really care about starving children in Africa?”, or questioned about their porn-watching habits?

Whether or not it is a fact capable of being grasped by those who wish to destroy the BBC, this is what their telly will look like if and when they succeed. Not necessarily immediately, but give it a couple of years and we’ll be slinging nymphomaniac dwarves on to an island with the worst of them.

The reason we are forced to make do with BBC shows such as Blue Planet or Little Dorrit, or indeed acclaimed programmes on commercial channels, is that rival broadcasters cannot compete with the BBC for funding. They therefore have to compete for quality, an arrangement that in the good times raises standards across the board. In these grim economic times for commercial broadcasters, the licence fee might be the only guarantee that programmes will be made at all…

Great stuff. Every time I have an American guest and they listen to Radio 4 or see BBC4 or 2, they shake their heads in wonderment that such things are still possible. And yet there are lots of folks around in the UK (not to mention in the Daily Mail) who would like to destroy it.