Monday 29 August 2022

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.

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