Saturday, 1 September 2018

Britain's Hidden Presenters

Cassian, if you recall, is the white, middle-aged and male editor of BBC Four who says that the era of "white, middle-aged and male" standing on a hill and "telling you like it is" has "passed".

Toby offers three possible explanations for Mr. Harrison's controversial comments:

  • That he genuinely believe there should be more black and brown faces on the BBC.
  • That he was sending a signal "that he has fully embraced the left-wing identitarianism that is fast becoming the official ideology of the liberal establishment". 
  • That he was "simply trying to get across that he’s a member of the media’s Brahmin class" - "In this light, Harrison was advertising his status as an ‘upper-white’ by attacking his own racial group, something a ‘lower-white’ would never do. You know the type — the kind of knuckle-dragging troglodyte who voted ‘Leave’ in the EU referendum"

Whatever the reason, here's something a commenter wrote below Toby's article:
Here's Cassian's statement rewritten, to reflect how the majority of people in this country feel when they switch on their TV sets:
"There’s a mode of programming that involves a presenter, usually non-white, young and female, standing on a hill and talking absolute gibberish about a subject they clearly know nothing about, clearly having got the job because of their identity at the expense of people far better qualified and more able to do the job,’ he said. ‘We all recognise the era of that is well and truly here to stay.’"
Well, quite. 

One BBC Four programme I've been watching is Britain's Hidden Masterpieces. I suspect it directly shows the handiwork of Cassian Harrison in action. 

The hour-long programme alternates between its two presenters.

The first, Bendor Grosvenor, is "white, middle-aged and male" and knows what he's talking about. He's a proper expert with expertise directly relevant to the subject at hand and a first-rate communicator.

The second, Emma Dabiri, is "non-white, young and female", an "author, TV presenter, model" and a postgraduate student with some teaching responsibilities at SOAS, University of London who the BBC presents as a "social historian". She seems more suited to The One Show. 

The result is a real curate's egg of a programme, which should have been two separate programmes.

In the first episode of the latest series, for example, you have Bendor being informed and fascinating about Rembrandt and Emma learning to play golf and saying it's a great shame that some golf clubs still don't allow women in.

And in the second episode of the series, you have Bendor telling us about the German painter Johann Zoffany, a favourite portraitist of the royal family under King George III, while Emma is getting excited about a portrait of a black man because it's a portrait of a black man. The bits about Zoffany were some of the best BBC television I've seen this year while Emma's bits were just the usual, run-of-the-mill BBC social justice warrior stuff.

It's a shame.

Incidentally, if you've not seen Britain's Hidden Masterpieces but recognise Emma's name or her face from the image at the top of the post that might be because you've seen her recently on Newsnight saying that Justin Bieber shouldn't wear dreadlocks because that's "cultural appropriation".


  1. Frankly I don’t care if the presenters of serious documentaries are black, white, old or young. What I do care about is that they are the best in their field, both their erudition and their ability to communicate difficult concepts to the audience. It the BBC is now using the criteria of political correctness in choosing their presenters they are not even fulfilling their own stated aim to inform and educate. The idea that that audience will somehow respond more readily to a presenter who is more like us (i.e the BBC’s idea of “us”) is an insult to our intelligence.

  2. Isn’t this just another version of tokenism. Back in the day there had to be a token black person on programmes, an unwritten quota system if you like.

    We now have the natural end point where drama, documentaries and news are completely over populated with black and Indian Asian people so the BBC can say ‘we must reflect all of Britain in our programming’.

    It’s deliberate social engineering on a grand scale to help with integration, erasing stereotypes and creating role models to develop aspiration in young black and Asian people.

    Nothing wrong with the aims but the means seem to be totally out of proportion and at the expense of everyone else. In some cases talent and ability seems to have been thrown out of the window and overridden by the need to conform. The BBC will dismiss this as white privilege or male, pale and stale.

    Most fair minded people couldn't give two hoots about the colour or ethnicity of those on TV, but our tolerance is being severely tested by the BBC when PC dogma overtakes common sense.

  3. I think you are being far too polite about said Dabiri. Her presentational style induces in me similar reactions to nails being dragged across a blackboard, and her vacuity matches that of Diane Abbott.

  4. Meanwhile on Radio 4 we have "Economics With Subtitles" where a female 'ethnic' plays the 'expert' role and a male 'ethnic' plays the 'idiot'.
    I think it might be some sort of vehicle to persuade us that if only the 'right sort' of socialism was tried everything would be better, but then again, what with the poor English, bad jokes and inability to stay on topic it is hard to tell.
    Fortunately neither of the presenters is an old, white male so job done!