Thursday 1 December 2022

December Open Thread

It's beginning to look a lot like time for a new Open Thread.

Hope all's well with you and thank you for commenting. 

Thursday 10 November 2022

November Open Thread

As November winds blow into Morecambe and I fear for my roof, here's a new open thread.

Hello to all of you and thank you for commenting. 


You may have read at Guido Fawkes or in the Daily Mail that the BBC had to temporarily withdraw their latest Radio 4 Profile of Conservative cabinet minister Kemi Badenoch.

The programme has now been edited and made available again, but the BBC is being tight-lipped about what they've changed, according to the Mail:
The BBC would not reveal what had been changed in the episode, but it is understood that a claim in the original broadcast, that Mrs Badenoch, 42, had stuck 'male' and 'female' signs on the doors of gender-neutral toilets at her leadership launch venue, was corrected.
This story has a few interesting implications, especially concerning journalism. 

Firstly, I'm intrigued that the Daily Mail couldn't find out what the BBC changed. I've been able to find out though, thanks to TVEyes.

The Mail correctly 'understood' the first change - concerning these signs:
The original broadcast said:
This summer, after Boris Johnson quit as PM, Badenoch threw her hat into the ring to become leader, sticking 'men' and 'ladies' signs on the doors of gender-neutral toilets at her launch venue.
This caused a stir on Twitter with many people quoting a Twitter thread on 12 July - the date of Mrs Badenoch's leadership launch - by leading 'gender-critical' voice Maya Forstater. This called journalists out at the time about it:
This story is not what you think: These are the toilets at Policy Exchange. I first noticed these signs on 17th of May at meeting about sex based rights with various gender critical groups. At first i thought the paper signs had been put up specifically for our benefit. What I think is happening here is that Policy Exchange (or their landlords) put in nice new gender neutral toilets and the staff don't like them. They probably feel uncomfortable. Men leave the seat up etc.. so they've put the signs up for everyone's comfort.
Yet here was BBC Radio 4 repeating this discredited claim four months on.

The edited version goes like this:
It was reported that 'men' and 'ladies' signs were cellotaped on the doors of gender-neutral toilets at her launch venue but evidence later emerged that this had been done before the event.
Even this edit risks being misleading. "Evidence later emerged that this had been done before the event" might suggest that rather than Kemi herself 'sticking' up the signs, it was done "before the event" i.e. done for the launch. What Maya Forstater, and others, showed is that those signs were up a couple of months before the launch, so not connected to Kemi Badenoch in any way.

Indeed, it's so potentially misleading that Guido Fawkes apparently misread the revised version as a simple repetition of the debunked claims from the original version:
Despite the editing, the profile still reeks of W1A’s woke inclinations. It repeats debunked claims about Kemi removing gender-neutral toilets at her campaign launch, albeit with a caveat.
Maybe the programme needs withdrawing and re-editing again to remove this ambiguous wording?

What both Guido and the Mail missed though was the second edit. The original broadcast said:
It's not just race. LGBTQ activists have accused Kemi Badenoch of being anti-trans Ben Hunte, a senior reporter with Vice World News. "I've had for a number of organisations and individuals who are really concerned about Kemi Badenoch's behaviour in government. I've exposed a leaked recording of Kemi Badenoch saying that trans women are men", the government insisting her comments had been taken out of context. "I have released a report about the equalities minister saying she doesn't care about colonialism." She's been criticised for abstaining on a vote to extend same sex marriage rights to Northern Ireland. And this week, ITV News reported that Bedenoch has now paused work on a promised ban on the use of conversion therapy. "There have been a number of situations over the past year that really do kind of raise your eyebrows about what it means to be an equalities minister when you don't necessarily believe in all forms of equality within your portfolio".
The revised version edited out this line:
And this week, ITV News reported that Bedenoch has now paused work on a promised ban on the use of conversion therapy.
That concerns a 'scoop' by ITV's Paul Brand that the Government took to Twitter to dismiss. BBC Radio 4 clearly got cold feet about Paul Brand's journalistic 'scoop' too.

Both Guido and the Daily Mail note the inclusion of the activist-like Ben Hunte. The Mail uses the c-word about him - "controversial":
That made me smile because of how Radio 4's website introduces this programme. They also use the c-word about Kemi Badenoch, asking "Is the controversial trade secretary and equalities minister a future PM?":
Another thing that struck me about controversial Ben Hunte's controversial inclusion is that Radio 4 - unlike the Mail - didn't mention that Ben used to work for the BBC [and got the Corportation into quite a few scrapes]. Profile simply introduced him as "a senior reporter with Vice World News". None of his contributions were re-edited.

A final thing is that the version you can now here on BBC Sounds - which begins by saying that the programme has been edited, but not why ["This programme has been edited since broadcast"] - ends with quite of list of BBC staff behind this edition of Profile: the researcher, producers, production co-ordinators, and editor. 

Not sure I'd have wanted my name on this piece of BBC broadcasting. Maybe they'll be tempted to edit those out next?

Saturday 1 October 2022

October Open Thread

Welcome to the October Open Thread! Thank you for all your comments and for helping keep us going.

Friday 2 September 2022

September Open Thread

The ancient animal, which was thought to be humans' earliest-known ancestor, may have lost the anus during evolution.

New Open Thread (and if you don't like it, well, we have others.) 

I was wrong

 If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know I hardly ever watch the BBC these days. I keep mentioning that to account for my prolonged silences interspersed with off-topic observations.. 

However I have to comment on the reappearance of Abdel Bari Atwan, whose services I thought had been quietly  dispensed with by the BBC.  I was wrong. He was on Dateline again on 19th August, following the attack on Salman Rushdie.

Melanie Phillips has written about this topic as has the Jewish Chronicle both citing the most outrageous of his remarks. 

The BBC, of course, has no intention of reprimanding or silencing Atwan as they think he represents legitimate views, and letting him air them is an expression of the BBC’s even-handedness. 

The problem is, however, that along with the rest of the left the BBC genuinely thinks it is indeed upholding balance, fairness and objectivity. It believes that it represents the political centre ground. That’s why it views its critics axiomatically as extremists who can safely be disregarded.

To be fair to Bari, as we like to call him on ITBB, he did imply that carrying out the actual fatwa  in it’s original form (death to Rushdie the blasphemer) was a tad beyond its sell-by date, but he defended the principle that such blasphemy as Rushdie’s was “very, very cruel when he talked about the Prophet Mohammed and his wives” which was also “very, very dangerous”. He added: “About 90 per cent of the people of the Muslim world believe that freedom of expression [is] practised only to insult Muslims”.

I’m not sure if Dateline itself isn’t about to be axed. I read it somewhere. Maybe they’ve realised that it’s a tiny bit politically biased.

Melanie Phillips doesn’t stop there. In her criticisms of the BBC, as well as Atwan’s other offensive remarks, she mentions the infamous Balen report about the BBC’s bias against Israel.  It has never seen the light of day, and its ongoing secrecy has been defended to the tune of  around £300,000 (of licence fee-payers dosh) in legal fees.   She refers to her own appearances as the token right-winger who is

“almost never given the opportunity to address the lies told about Israel.”

Monday 29 August 2022

August Open Thread

Seven months down, five to go. Thanks for your support and comments, and here's to a splendid August!

Some truths

Emily Maitlis’s truth.

Following in the footsteps of Dorothy Byrne (formerly of Channel Four,)  Emily Maitlis (formerly of the BBC) delivered the MacTaggart memorial lecture at the Edinburgh International TV festival. 

Emily Maitlis wants a Remainer BBC by Tom Slater 

"What’s striking about Maitlis’s critique, which has been curdling among elite Remainer media for a while, is that it essentially posits attempts at impartiality as bias.

Maitlis certainly struck a chord. “The BBC is biased!” screeched everybody under the sun. Fact!

However, trawling through the wide spectrum of tittle-tattle online, it seems that half the commenters agreed with Emily that the BBC is biased to the right, and the other half agreed with  - well- us - that the BBC is biased to the left. (‘Half-and-half’ may not be strictly mathematical)

I’ll just throw in the following quote for the hell of it because it tickled me.

"Channel 4 boss Ian Katz has said he thought Maitlis’ speech was ‘brilliant’, and that it served as a powerful reminder that ‘due impartiality is the bedrock of journalism.’


Nevertheless, the anti-BBC vibe is growing, whichever way you look at it. Despite, not because of, the woefully ineffectual pushback from the likes of the BBC's chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, one might even sympathise with the BBC. (You know, as the underdog.) 

BBC insiders back Emily Maitlis over claims of Tory meddling

"BBC insiders have said Emily Maitlis was right to call out Sir Robbie Gibb as an “active agent” of the Tory party who interfered with editorial matters.

Enough already. Sir Robbie Gibb’s position on the BBC Board appears (to Emily Maitlis and others) to constitute conclusive proof that the BBC is biased to the right.


Eddie Izzard’s truth (Strange but true)

Izzard intends to “Stand for Labour in Sheffield central”

This BBC article is notable for slavishly adhering to gender make-believe from the  “if I sez I’m a lady, then I’m a lady” school of abandon-all-reason.

All the way through this piece Eddie, wearing a skirt, is “assigned” “she” by the BBC. 

"Comedian Eddie Izzard says she hopes to stand as a Labour candidate in Sheffield at the next general election.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many female pronouns gratuitously (and dare I say almost maliciously?) shoehorned into a teeny bit of reporting. Is someone  (other than me) ’avin’ a laugh? I’m seriously wondering if the BBC has gawn mad. Here’s Guido. Amongst the comments, 259 at the time of writing, (which was roughly the day before yesterday) I spotted a delicate question that most other contributors failed to ask. Where on God’s earth did those b00bs come from?


Jeremy Bowen’s (personal) truth

Jeremy Bowen has written another book you’ll be glad to hear. It’s called The Making of the Modern Middle East: A Personal Story

The reviewer Justin Marozzi is a fan - I saw that on the twitter. 

Well, I won’t be reading any more of  Jezzer’s personal stories and I wish I could unread the ones I’ve already read.


“Marriage”  untruth

The other day I mentioned the BBC’s 4-part drama Marriage starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker plus James Bolam and some other actors.

Once again, public opinion fell into two (weirdly passionate) camps, which we’ll call - ‘For’ and ‘Agin’.

Newspaper reviewers raved about it. Carol Midgley in the Times thought it was the bees’ knees while  James Innes-Smith in the Spectator was less keen.

Torrents of negativity poured in after just one episode. The prolonged silences interspersed with inane dialogue in episode one instantly brought about an irresistible compulsion to switch-off-the-TV. 

This ‘more naturalistic than actual naturalism’ genre is not new. It was captured more effectively several decades ago.  In 1971 Mike Leigh produced “Bleak Moments.” Leigh’s early output was characterised by similarly ‘realistic’ conversations that elevated the mundane to poignant-verging-on-poetic. The semi-improvised dialogue revelled in outrageously inane banter that was doleful, yet humorous, compelling, and entertaining yet somehow believable.

In my humble opinion, “Marriage” was charmless; the casting was wrong - the production failed to give the illusion that Sean Bean, as an unreconstructed northerner, and Nicola Walker were a couple.


The adopted daughter-of-colour bore no hint of resemblance to either of her adopted parents, either in accent, turn of phrase or familial idiosyncrasy. The sub-plot-by-numbers was equally unlikely and unconvincing.

Note: If I ever hear protracted whingeing about a baked potatah at an airport I’ll eat all the above words.

Roger and out...time for Amol again?

The closing section of this week's Feedback on Radio 4 was a question-and-answer session directed at its sacked presenter Roger Bolton, marking his very reluctant last appearance. 

As the embittered 73-year-old BBC veteran couldn't interview himself, the programme got a faithful listener to put the questions. She turned out, bless her, to be the living embodiment of a stereotypical elderly Radio 4 listener - with views to match.

Everyone loved Roger and she loved the BBC, and at the end of this long-farewell love-in they agreed on the corporation's importance/necessity.

Roger wasn't keen on the present BBC bosses though, and repeatedly slammed them for being reluctant to come on his show. Many of his criticisms will strike a chord with 'people like us' who know how the BBC handles such 'watchdog' programmes.

Unfortunately, he has also subsequently gone on to tell The Observer that Emily Maitlis was right, especially over her criticisms of the BBC's Brexit coverage for not being anti-Brexit enough.

I see in our archives a huge pile of often very long and detailed pieces slamming Roger Bolton for being biased on that issue - and several others. 

He's not been shy about it either, openly stating his disdain for criticism of the BBC from 'people like us'. 

He's never been a wholly impartial champion of the Radio 4 listener. Though he's had his moments, he's mainly been the champion of that stereotypical Radio 4 listener, and been given free range by the BBC, until this year, however far he's strayed on Feedback into various kinds of advocacy. 

And regular readers might also recall yet more exhaustingly long posts here recording his anger at John Humphrys after JH slammed the BBC, especially over pro-EU bias - despite JH later stating that he'd voted Remain himself.

As we said at the time, Roger Bolton truly took the hump against the former Today presenter for straying from the BBC straight and narrow. It also sounded like he strongly disagreed and that he took it as a personal affront. JH became a regular Feedback target thereafter. I wrote here, several times, about it seeming something like a vendetta.

What Roger Bolton's saying now as an 'ex-BBC presenter' is exactly what we claimed he believed while being an active BBC presenter because, whilst hiding being BBC impartiality, he frequently wasn't impartial, framing discussions in certain ways and asking particular questions in differing ways and giving his own opinions.

I know he has many fans - maybe some of you - but I think the new BBC management are well shot of him - as they are of Emily, Jon and Lewis. Clear the whole lot out, and take Mark Easton and Jeremy Bowen with them off to LBC too, to join James O'Brien and our old friend Rob Burley where people don't have to pay for them!

If only those BBC bosses can now hold off from the urge to really 'troll' their underlings - and the public - and make Amol Rajan the next Feedback presenter. I'm hoping if gobby Gary L gets the Golden Boot from Match of the Day after one too many egregious tweets about women footballers and bras that Amol will get that gig too. Plus Gardeners' World and Fake or Fortune? And if, as we hear, the BBC is bringing back that old ITV Saturday night classic of bread-and-circuses British TV Gladiators, I'm hoping Amol will be the new Ulrika alongside Mishal Husain. 

I've given up my old habit of predicting Newswatch's Samira Ahmed for every job vacancy as she never gets them, especially since her pay row triumph over the BBC. She may mouth off on Twitter from time to time, and join protests, and write articles, and be very anti-Nigel Farage, but she's much better at keeping her opinions to herself while broadcasting than Roger Bolton and she reads out views she almost certainly doesn't agree with without the Boltonian distancing tone. If only she hadn't humiliated the petty, vindictive, defensive BBC, a BBC that bears grudges.

Not that I'm stirring...

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Tuesday 23 August 2022



It's a sign of something deeply rotten in the state of our country that once rare events, which not so long ago would have dominated the news for weeks, now just come and go. A nine-year-old girl was stabbed in Boston, Lincolnshire last month and overnight we learn that another nine-year-old girl has been shot dead in Liverpool. Quite rightly, both the Sky News, ITV News and GB News websites have been leading with this horrific killing. The BBC wasn't, but is now. The media needs to get back to making such crimes not normal by not moving on so quickly. 

Saturday 20 August 2022

Mark Easton gets it wrong again

And talking about the BBC getting its facts wrong...

As Arthur T notes on the open thread, blog favourite and arch-BBC narrative setter Mark Easton has been rebuked again by the corporation's Editorial Complaints Unit.

BBC News (6.00pm), BBC One, 12 April 2022
18 August 2022


In a report on the Prime Minister receiving a fine for breaching lockdown restrictions the BBC’s Home Editor said:

Now each one of those Fixed Penalty Notices requires the police to believe that a criminal offence has been committed. Now it doesn’t go on anybody’s criminal record but it will go on the Police National Computer.

A viewer complained that this was incorrect, as breaches of lockdown restrictions incurring a fixed penalty notice were non-recordable crimes. The ECU considered the complaint in the light of the BBC’s editorial standards of accuracy.


The Home Editor acknowledged that he was mistaken in saying the offence would be recorded on the Police National Computer. As the error could have misled viewers as to the seriousness of the offence, the ECU accepted that it was a breach of the relevant editorial standards.

Further action

The finding was reported to the Board of BBC News and discussed with the programme-makers concerned.

As ever, beyond being published on a part of the BBC website very few people read [and being picked up by the odd newspaper], what is the BBC doing to make this known to BBC viewers who might have been misled? A prominent apology/correction on BBC One's News at Six?

I've scanned TVEyes to see if any apology/correction has been broadcast on BBC One since this ruling was published two days ago. You won't be surprise that it brings up no results.

Note also that it took four months and an escalation to the ECU to even get this. The BBC's complaints process isn't fit for purpose.

You really do have to watch them like a hawk.

"It's not the BBC. You know, you actually get your facts right"

"It's not the BBC. You now, you actually get your facts right," Liz Truss playfully said last night to GB News's Alastair Stewart. 

Recently departed BBC presenter Dan Walker, clutching somebody's pearls, described that as "an incredibly dangerous slur. Dangerous for Liz Truss, for every viewer…for all of us."

Others might say that it's more worrying that so many influential types on Twitter are saying what Dan said as the BBC should never be immune from criticism. 

By coincidence, I had to fact-check the BBC twice yesterday and twice found them to be factually wrong.

Once came on a report about a social media user being banned from a couple of platforms which ended; 
The BBC has approached Google, which owns YouTube and TikTok, for comment.

I checked that because I was pretty sure TikTok is Chinese-owned - hence how controversial it is - and, yes, TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, not by Google. 

The BBC did stealth-edit it later to read, though it took them several hours:

The BBC has approached Google, which owns YouTube, for comment.

The other one concerns the partying Finnish PM  Sanna Marin, who the BBC News Channel spent hours on Thursday/Friday calling "the youngest prime minister in the world at just 36 years old". Radio 4's main Six O'Clock News on 18 August twice called her "the world's youngest prime minister," So this was stated as a fact across the BBC's channels for many hours. 

As lots of others were calling her that too I've still no idea why I fact-checked the BBC over that but I just felt the need to check and on doing so was surprised to read that she isn't. That's Dritan Abazović, prime minister of Montenegro. He's 39 days younger that she is. Sanna Marin was the youngest PM in the world back in 2019 but hasn't been since Mr Abazović became PM in April this year. Clearly no one at Radio 4 or the BBC News Channel bothered checking. It's really not hard to do so

To paraphrase Liz Truss, this was the BBC and, you know, they actually don't get their facts right.

Thursday 18 August 2022

BBC Disinformation

Away from the BBC, we read today in the South Wales Argus that a fire in March at a mosque initially treated as a hate crime by police was started by a desperate drug user cooking up heroin. Wales Online adds that the hapless dope 'likely had no idea the lean-to type kitchen belonged to the mosque'. Can you guess how the BBC reported this back in March though?
Note the irresponsible lack of quotation marks around 'deliberate' in that headline.

Off-topic and ranty

“Democracy is the worst form of government - apart from all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” said Churchill. 

How many Muslims must a democratic country absorb before democracy stops being the ‘least worst’ system? When voters who oppose democracy outnumber those who support it? Surely, then it will be democratically voted out. Can we just vote democracy out? If not, why not?

If  - (when - not if! ) the majority of voting citizens are ideologically predisposed towards alternative systems, say, Socialism, Fascism, Fundamental Islamism, then surely the very qualities of democracy can only bring about its own demise. Bound to. 

Demographics. Mass immigration. Then your precious democracy starts to look shaky. “Events dear boy, events,” said Harold Macmillan. Tipping point *Point Of No Return*.

That rant was brought to you by someone who doesn’t always stick to this blog’s specific remit. Me! 

Similarly, the next item is also strictly off-topic. If you haven’t already, feel free to scroll past.

This is a conversation between Jordan Peterson and David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel during the Donald Trump era. I’m putting it here because Friedman sets the scene with remarkable clarity and without digressing or going into too much detail. No rabbit holes

I am not an avid follower of Prof Peterson - 'let’s say' it’s a curate’s egg type of thing. I’ll try not to digress or go into detail either, but his painstaking avoidance of imprecision can be distracting.  Always inserting “let’s say” as if to hedge his bets and cover himself against possible misinterpretation or misrepresentation must be a sort of insurance policy.

Would he take sides on this issue?  Yes. It was good. Most of the commenters were pleasantly surprised, but naturally, some of them complained that “the other side” needed to be aired. Hmm!

Another Wark on the Biased Side

Unkind souls used to refer to Kirsty Wark as 'Slursty Wark'. She was certainly on fine sense-mangling form last night, ending with:
Thanks very much indeed for all of us for watching.
Earlier she'd read out the Daily Mail's headline and 'misgendered' the elderly man fatally stabbed in Ealing. :
And let's take a look at some of the front pages, beginning with the Daily Mail. 'What kind of monster kills an 87 year old woman in a scooter?'...that was the person on the mobility the story on their front page.

That all followed an interview about the RAF diversity row where a man and a woman were interviewed. Both were strongly on-message but the man briefly said something that strayed from the true path and Kirsty came down on him like a ton of bricks. He then returned to saying 'the right thing' again, now overcompensating for the 'rightness' by being even more on-message than earlier. [If Col Richard Kemp had been on instead I'm sure he'd have held his ground].  

Those kind of one-sided challenges are par for the course, of course. What's so annoying watching Kirsty Wark interview though is how often she interrupts just so she can get her next question in. She has her 'little list' of pre-prepared questions and nothing's going to stop her ploughing through them, never mind if the flow of the discussion keeps being diverted or comes to a juddering half, as it did once last night. 

One odd thing about the programme's treatment of the story might stand out to anyone who's been hearing about it elsewhere, that the senior RAF recruitment officer who resigned in protest at an "effective pause" on offering jobs to white male recruits in favour of women and ethnic minorities [as Sky reported it] is a woman - which, in this case, is surely relevant. Newsnight was oddly coy about stating it though:

  • The RAF's recruitment chief hit quits over diversity targets.
  • "Impossible diversity targets" - that was was the reason, it came to light today, which was cited by the head of RAF recruitment for resigning from the service.
  • But it now finds itself at the centre of a row after one of its senior officers resigned.
  • Dr Sophy Antrobus, do you think the RAF chief recruiter was right to resign?
Viewers might have thought it was a moaning man until Kirsty Wark let slip a “she” very late on. 

Tuesday 16 August 2022

The BBC regime cracks down on the UK government's immigration plan

The lead story on the BBC News website this evening is:
Yes, the pro-mass immigration BBC is going after the UK Government again over their 'deport illegal immigrants to Rwanda' plan.

You can tell that BBC activism is in full flow because of the BBC's use of the word 'regime' rather than 'government' as regards Rwanda. 

The last decade or so of the Assad government in Syria always got the 'regime' treatment from the BBC after they switched to disapproving of it.

Over exposure

Exhibitionism is a recognised mental disorder, but whipping your penis out during your performance at the Edinburgh festival doesn’t properly fall into that category as defined here. I mean on this occasion at least, the intention wasn’t a prelude to sexual activity as far as we know. Although this definition isn’t quite so clear-cut. 

Exhibitionistic Disorder is a mental disorder that causes a person to expose his sexual organs—or genitals–to other people, usually people they’ve never met and are not expecting it, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The exhibitionist gets sexual enjoyment from the behavior.

We’re talking Jerry Sadowitz, obviously. In the context of showbiz, I imagine he does it for comedic edginess rather than sexual enjoyment. But he is quite weird, so one can’t be sure. Anyway, whose business is it to measure the extent of a performer’s sexual enjoyment? Is there a quota?

It seems he is an absolute master of sleight-of-hand magic trickery, which should be a massively redeeming feature for all the undecideds and the not-so-sures.

I digress. What struck me most of all (Let’s not look for unintended innuendos in this post) was the prudishness in some of the comments below the line here.  (£) It’s exposed a whole lot of puritans! Well, maybe ‘exposed’ isn’t the best choice - let’s try ‘revealed’. Who knew that The Times readership was so easily discombobulated and so quick to pluck things out of context like a new-generation bunch of Mary Whitehouses. 

On the other hand, I’ve heard that (retrospectively) Mrs. W and her zero-tolerance stance on sexual liberation has been reevaluated. It’s now deemed “She was right all along” which is probably the inevitable and justifiable pushback to the rise in gross pornographic titillation. You fickle, pendulum-swinging representatives of public opinion, you! The hooha is predicted to boost Sadowitz’s profile, so it’s all good. 

Self-disclosure; in reality, I am a bit of a prude but in principle, not at all. So what business do I have talking about something I haven’t seen and am unlikely ever to do so? Self-indulgence is about the sum of it.

(I’ve spotted several more unintended lewd innuendos now.) 


Oh yes, and the other thing concerns Edinburgh Council’s possible twinning with Gaza. If you follow our sidebar all the way over to David Collier’s blog, now stylishly revamped, you will know about this already.

This article has been up for a few days, yet his resident contrarians and antisemites are nowhere to be seen. No doubt they’re still girding their loins. 


I thought about reviewing the latest BBC drama about marriage. It’s called “Marriage”.

I’m not a reviewer, and I do realise we’re only halfway through the drama but I’m assuming there are some surprises in store. Let’s hope the concluding episodes wrong-foot premature naysayers like me and make us look stupid.

Does the interaction between the couple reflect real-life banality? No. Even the couple itself is unconvincing. They look like two actors. They sound like two actors. They are two actors. 

Compare the prolonged banter about baked potatahs with the comical banality of the early semi-improvised TV dramas by Mike Leigh, where an implicit profundity somehow shone through, even if it was all in the viewers’ imagination. Of course, the actors did have the advantage of being (at the time) unknown and odd-looking. 

Of a similar oeuvre, “Creature Comforts”, ads with plasticine animals animated to a soundtrack of randomly banal chatter resonated with viewers and evoked a million times more profundity and pathos, and were almost moving. (Maybe they should have resurrected them for this production) The Owl and the Pussycat were married.

I suspect the tediousness in the first two episodes of “Marriage” was deliberate, but rather than emblematic, profound, or moving - the tediousness came across as plain, face-value tedious. I think we can work out for ourselves that the black daughter was supposed to have been adopted rather than the casting department’s nod to diversity, which would have been quite a stretch. Was the boyfriend deemed so awful because he didn’t drink wine? Under the circumstances, he seemed suitably polite. 

Maybe James Bolam will save the day. All will be revealed next week.

Konstantin Kisin v the BBC

Further to Sue's post above ⏫, here's Konstantin Kisin entering the lion's den - BBC Scotland's The Nine - and twice putting very BBC presenter Martin Geissler back in his box over the Jerry Sadowitz business. It's quite a skelping!

Monday 15 August 2022

Some observations about current issues for want of a better title

Do you remember the early days of this blog? In our naivety we posted long-form pieces covering acres of space, sometimes utilising the ‘read more’ button, and we got away with it!  Scroll down and down and not be back in time for lunch. (When I was a lad) everyone had a massive attention-span. What happened?

I wanted to say something about GB News, but the jury still needs more time to consider. 

Meanwhile, I’ll just describe the weirdest interview ever. Dawn Neesom was standing in for the excellent Nana Akua and the topic was the stabbing of Salman Rushdie. 

Alongside Dawn’s overbearing presence even Scottish comedian Leo Kearse seemed subdued. 

For some inexplicable reason, the opinion of Imam Ajmal Masroor was sought. One may remember this excitable contributor to The Big Questions from back in the day. Ever passionate on matters appertaining to the ROP and nigh impossible to shut-up mid-flow, the interview was conducted over the phone because Masroor happened to be aboard a fishing boat. (!) Why anyone at GB News would seek such a highly-strung personage’s opinion on the Rushdie incident at all is a mystery but with the extra obstacle of engine noise his insights on the matter were effectively drowned out.  Neesom’s fawning intro and post-interview outro revealed a profound chasm between our (hers and my) interpretation of what we’d just heard (or why.)

I could say GB News feels slightly claustrophobic/repetitive with the limited number of hosts whose over-exposure might have propelled them to premature personality-hood. I have no specific criticisms though, apart from a general ‘less is more.’  There’s a definite need for what they’re doing, so let’s stick with it.

I should mention the attempted assassination of Rushdie itself.  I hardly watch the BBC now but I made a special effort to do so. The BBC’s coverage seemed no better or worse than what I’ve seen of Sky, Al Jazeera, ITV, etc. 

We had a fair bit of “we don’t know what the motive was” from other sources as well so I won’t single out the BBC for shoehorning a gratuitously over-cautious and ridiculous statement into its reports. I know I’m not the only one who finds this preposterous.

I confess I don’t warm to Sir Salman personally. I understand over the years he has had more wives and glam lady companions than absolutely necessary, which doesn’t attest to the soundness of character that is being wishfully projected onto him since he’s achieved near-martyrdom, and he does remind me of Mr. Bean. Also, I’ve never had the stamina to plough through difficult prose but I must admit some of the outrage about the writer’s attempted assassination appears somewhat opportunistic in its Dash to Bash Radical Islam, but that’s a bandwagon I’ll willingly jump aboard. 

Outside the hospital where Rushdie is being treated, the America-based BBC presenter Nomia Iqbal, a British Muslim, appeared suitably opposed on principle to violent responses to blasphemy  However, I found myself wondering which side of the blasphemy fence she sits on when the violence is directed towards Israelis, in which case, as any fule kno, it’s the radicals that get the free pass.

In the interest of trying not to be a miserable, negative, and ill-informed commenter on something I know little about (which is a failing I always accuse others of ) I’ve read several articles on Rushdie by far more enlightened and literarily-articulate writers than I’ll ever be, and I have to conclude that he’s not such a bad bloke after all. And it goes without saying that any critic of radical Islam is fine by me.

Melanie Phillips sets out the issue forensically and thoroughly here and isn’t at all mean about Mr. Rushdie. She passes on some astute quotes from him.  

Perhaps his narrow escape from death will amplify his words of wisdom until they properly resonate with the cowardly media. 

To brush up on my 'Rushdie' I read:

Salman Rushdie warned of dark times and we ignored him

Those who argue that words are on a par with violence are grievously blurring a sharp line, writes Bari Weiss in Monday's The Times

Salman Rushdie won’t be the last

Thuggish crybullies will find more targets

 Murtaza Hussain


How we gave up on Salman Rushdie

Britain saw his fatwa and internalised it

By Will Lloyd


Finally, wouldn’t it be nice if GB News could attract a wider range of adverts, particularly the Welsh ones with their erratic sound levels? They are so amateurish that they make normal adverts look sophisticated. I understand it’s something to do with a boycott. Am I right?