Saturday 2 January 2016

Back to those 'Today' guest editors....

Just going back for a while to this year's Today guest editors....

As the week went by it became a little more apparent as to why the BBC chose who they chose (if you're of my way of thinking about the BBC). 

Working backwards....

Today's guest, former BP boss and crossbench peer Lord Browne, was there as an advocate for action on gay rights and global warming (though not necessarily both at the same time). 

Yesterday's guest, former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and crossbench peer Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, was there as an advocate of rights for disabled people.

NewYear's Eve's guest, British architect David Adjaye, creator of the Stephen Lawrence Centre and the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, was there to discuss architecture and race from an ethnic minority viewpoint.

Last Wednesday's guest Miriam Gonzalez Durantez was there as Nick Clegg's wife and to discuss 'gender' - men and women - and power, and promote positive stories about immigration to the UK.

Now, yes, actor Michael Sheen on Monday had no single angle to push (though he pushed several, being a left-leaning, political active actor) and Labour-voting cyclist Bradley Wiggins on Tuesday really only wanted to talk about cycling and fame (though he did get to speak to Jeremy Corbyn), but none of the above lessens my suspicion that the guest editor selection here has been highly indicative of exactly where BBC Radio 4 is coming from, both generally and on specific issues - namely from an engrained left-liberal stance.

The exception was the progamme's guest business editor through the week - much of whose contributions came early on in the show (including before 6.30 am): former David Cameron business guru Rohan Silva, the highly successful son of immigrants from Sri Lanka. 

Rohan was on to promote entrepreneurship - and did so very effectively. He also got Kevin Connolly to do a positive piece about Israel (on New Year's Eve) - a fascinating piece about Israel's world-beating/world-helping success when it comes to start-up businesses.

Who will we have on next year?

How about Scottish composer James MacMillan (to talk about music, Roman Catholicism and Scottish politics), Canadian cultural commenter Mark Steyn (to talk politics and culture), Nobel Prize winning biochemist Sir Tim Hunt (to talk science and media witch hunts), philosopher Roger Scruton (to talk about anything he fancies), actor and former footballer Vinnie Jones (to talk about Britishness and the monarchy) and Richard Dawkins (to talk about science and Islam)?

For balance, Owen Jones could guest edit the Sports news.


Update (3/1): Here's former Today editor Rod Liddle's take on this from The Sunday Times:
Apparently, the reason BBC programmes such as Radio 4’s Today resort to guest editors at this time of the year is to get their shows talked about in the press. 
Well, it certainly works: the papers are indeed full of stories about how staggeringly awful each programme has been. Especially the one presided over by that immaculately self-regarding entity, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, a lawyer and the wife of that chap who used to run the Lib Dems. 
A government minister, Anna Soubry, was so discomfited by the wittering idiocies of this particular programme that she tweeted that maybe guest editors are a bad idea per se. 
One problem is that the people chosen to guest-edit these shows are always achingly right-on, so it is often hard to tell the difference from the usual show. Maybe if they invited someone like Marine Le Pen of the French National Front to have a bash at editing, we all might sit up and listen for a bit.


  1. I would suggest Anjem Choudary, Robert Spencer, the lefty ex Greek Finance Minister whose name temoporarily escapes me, Elon Musk, and Wei Wei. They would be interesting.

    1. Maybe Anjem Choudary could be used as guest editor for 'Thought for the Day' throughout the entire week? Yanis Varoufakis would certainly prove a popular choice with our friend David Preiser (who I hope is enjoying a lovely Winter break). Elon Musk, I'm embarrassed to say, is new to me. He sounds interesting though. Wei Wei is your best bet for next year I think - if the BBC are brave enough to ignore the Chinese government (which they probably aren't). Robert Spencer, of course, is an absolute No Wei at far as the BBC is concerned. He'll only ever become a 'Today' guest presenter when Saudi Arabia freezes over.


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