Saturday 15 September 2018

BBC Editor Gets It About Right on 'Newswatch'

I've watched many an edition of Samira Ahmed's Newswatch over the years but I've never seen one before quite like this week's edition.

Famously, BBC editors brought in for questioning on Newswatch almost invariably stick to the standard line that the BBC has 'got it about right', whatever the topic at hand. But at least they usually go through the motions of appearing to take viewers' complaints seriously.

Not this week though. 

Gavin Allen, the BBC's Controller of Daily News Programmes, made no pretence at all about taking viewers' complaints seriously. 

There was Samira, taking it all very seriously indeed, and there was Gavin failing to contain his bemused frustration at what he obviously felt was totally confected outrage. 

So what was it all about, I hear you ask? 

Well, some people took exception to various BBC reporters and presenters making cameo appearances in The Bodyguard - the BBC's big drama of the moment. 

Andrew Marr, Sophie Raworth, Simon McCoy and around a dozen more of them have played themselves in the drama, doing 'BBC' things like interviewing and reporting. 

For the critics on Newswatch this was blurring the boundaries between fact and fiction, tarnishing the BBC brand, and not helpful in this 'age of fake news'.

Gavin Allen just didn't believe anyone was really angry about this or that there was even a single person out there who actually believed what they were seeing on The Bodyguard was real - i.e. who couldn't tell that The Bodyguard was a fictional drama, and that the BBC journalists appearing in it weren't actually reporting the day's news or interviewing the actual home secretary, Keeley Hawes MP. He evidently felt it was silly, bogus outrage. 

And I have to say that I think he was right.

Fancy wasting an edition of Newswatch and an interview with the BBC's Controller of Daily News Programmes on that!

Update: Well, the Telegraph evidently has a different view to me on this:

"Distressed viewers"? Good grief!!


  1. I made the point earlier in the Open Thread that the problem lies not with this drama series programme makers, but with the various BBC stars who chose to appear in a world of make believe. Laura K and John P as political reporters rely heavily upon the confidence of the viewer in them as they make their so-called balanced comments. To voluntarily allow the viewers' belief in them to be suspended in an 'it's not real you know' manner seems quite extraordinary. The quest time on screen to fuel their self-esteem must be the overriding factor in BBC land.

    1. ... The quest for time on screen to fuel their self-esteem must be the overriding factor in BBC land...

    2. Yes, I remember you making that point LC and I agree. As soon as I heard those familiar news voices a little alarm bell went off as far as I was concerned. That alarm has grown as the series itself has become really a huge PC propaganda fest...who could have guessed that the Muslim suspect was entirely innocent of any offence and it was the white middle aged man who was the guilty party...well that's my update from Mrs MB. I stopped watching it fairly soon after the "bonding" between Iraq veteran soldier and Hijabed would-be suicide bomber. :)


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