Sunday 5 April 2020

Musings from Morecambe

Sunny Morecambe (Saturday 10 am)

Hello. Hoping you're all well.

And thank you all so much for helping Sue to keep the blog not only afloat but positively buoyant, with open threads filling up faster than many people's cupboards with supplies of dried pasta and toilet rolls.


It's been another cloudy day in Morecambe today. So much for my high hopes yesterday that the prognosticators would prove to be correct about the sun driving up the M5 and the M6 and arriving here this morning.

The sun has put in even fewer appearances in Morecambe than me here at Is the BBC biased? recently. Wonder if he's cancelled his appearance today 'due to coronavirus'? If he has I might have to go all 'Peter Hitchens' on him. 

And if he does ignore Piers Morgan and put in an appearance later this afternoon and falls on Morecambe's parks and gardens, and on the Lakeland hills over he brimming bay, I'm praying the police don't launch drones to stop him and send him packing again. We need him!


I'm working from home these days. I actually took Friday afternoon off as a holiday though. 

'Being on holiday' now means 'moving my laptop from one room to another and looking out of a different window'.  


It's been a curious month - especially for me as a long-distance blogger about BBC bias. 

Due to events and a certain resultant disinclination, I've not seen a single BBC news bulletin, or clicked on the BBC News website (even once), or felt inclined to catch up on Newsnight. I've not heard even a minute's worth of Today either. And, brace yourselves, I've not even watched The Andrew Marr Show. Not even today's edition.

And do you know what? I've not missed them, Not even one tiny little bit. I've got my news from other sources, and don't feel remotely uninformed as a result. 

Sunny Morecambe (Sunday 10 am, before it clouded over again)

That said, the curious thing about my working from home is that it's still actually been very, if very specifically, BBC-focused:

On goes Radio 3 at 7am and stays on till I finish working for the day. And I have to say that I've very much liked what I've heard. I'm hoping that music while you work might catch on. (Maybe they could call it Music While You Work?)

The station itself wasn't exactly lacking in coronavirus action as one of their main morning presenters - the beautiful Suzy Klein - got struck with the hippest virus of the moment and was compelled to lie low, and the splendid, male-pale-and-middle-aged Ian Skelly racked up a coat-hanger in his shed and rode in to defend her honour and present the programme in place of her magnificently.

(I'm sure no one on woke social media will mind my way of putting that).


Radio 3, being the BBC, has, of course, been pushing itself as a beacon of hope in the darkness of the coronavirus lockdown. It has been for me, though it probably shouldn't boast about it as much. That's the BBC for you though - not shy about singing its own praises.

And I've chuckled day after day at Petroc on the Breakfast show telling listeners about some music-related news story. As soon as he begins that I await his mention of where he's read it and (to myself) shout 'Bingo!' when - as far more often than not - it turns out to be The Guardian.

And I've gently fumed at the incessant plugs for the Radio 3 late-evening essays about 'Old Man River' Paul Robeson. Every day, almost every hour, the adverts have poured in, And the presenters have added reminiscences from those who knew him. Nobody at Radio 3 seems remotely bothered that Old Man Paul left the flawed democracy of America for the murderous tyranny of the high-Stalinist Soviet Union, an action which might leave him open to criticism.

But that's the BBC for you - and even wonderful, wonderful BBC Radio 3 isn't immune from the virus of BBC groupthink.

Clapping in sand

The most striking thing though about being quarantined from almost all BBC output for a few weeks is how jarring and bizarre BBC news reporting sounds when it intrudes into your life unexpectedly.

Radio 3, due to coronavirus, has dropped its usual newsreaders and most of its bulletins and merely broadcasts BBC-wide news bulletins at certain points in the day. Thus, at 8 o'clock in the morning, I'm rudely broken out of my working-at-day reverie, day after day, by Tina Daheley telling us what critics of the government (from the non-Peter Hitchens side) are saying about the government. It's pretty much the same angle every day, the same value-laden ways of putting things, etc - very much the kind of BBC we blog about, and frankly irritating. (At least I can't see her tilting her head to the left, as she always does on TV.)

One morning last week Sue's friend Private Pike popped up at 8 o'clock being sarcastic about Donald Trump. I wasn't impressed. I hadn't missed his biased comedy stylings one bit. After the bulletin, Petroc quipped, "I think that's the first time we've heard Donald Trump's voice on Radio 3", and I thought, "I think that's the first time we've heard Jon Sopel being sarcastic about Donald Trump on Radio 3 too". Please let it be the last time too.


More musings to follow, but that's enough for one post. 


  1. BBC groupthink.

    I heard Mathhew Syed twice interviewed on the BBC about his book Rebel Ideas: The Power of Diverse Thinking. Although ethnic and religious diversity makes an appearance in the book, it is, as the title states, about diverity of thought, without any regard to the background of the thinker. Both interviewers indicated that they though diverse thinking was a jolly good thing but gave no indication that they realised they are working at Groupthink Central.

    1. You're wrong. It's very diverse. Some of the BBC staff turn to the Guardian crossword first, whereas others go for its arts page - it's true most head for the comments section especially to see what Polly Toynbee has to say but some of them are looking for anti-Brexit material and others are looking for anti-Trump items. So, you see - really, all in all...very diverse.

  2. Craig, in recent years I've reduced my BBC usage to R4 News only. And in this recent crisis I've also reduced my usage of that. It's "gotcha", carping style has been jarring and useless.
    One of the arguments in favour of keeping the BBC license fee has been that we need a national broadcaster in times of crisis. This crisis has shown to me that the BBC has not fulfilled any useful function.

    I won't miss the BBC one bit.


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