Thursday, December 01, 2011

On living in a Communist State…

This morning, I looked back at my Twitter feed for yesterday and decided that I’d quite like to watch The One Show on iPlayer with my breakfast.  Not, of course, for reasons you might think.  What I had seen on Twitter were references to a report on the ‘Megatrain’ and given that I am a ferroequinologist, I thought I might find it quite interesting.*

Unfortunately, I discovered that yesterday’s show wasn’t available, so I watched a bit of Alex Salmond getting excited about Scottish Independence before reading the BBC News Page.  And there I discovered what everyone else had seen on Twitter about the One Show – that Jeremy Clarkson had made some controversial comments.  Is that why I cannot watch it?

Apparently he said that those on strike yesterday should have been lined up and shot.**  But does anyone really think that he genuinely believes that, and would have actually shot them given half a chance?  Or was it just a bit of classic exaggeration, designed to make a point?

Television, especially comedy, employs the latter a lot, and often to good effect.  And, offensive though his comments may have been to some, the underlying idea that he doesn’t have much time for those on strike is a fair point.  After all, most of us have graciously accepted that on average we now live longer, and on average we have to pay more for everything.  Including our pensions.  So why should a group of men on six figure salaries attempt to hold the country to ransom?***

I am struggling with the BBC’s apparent censorship of yesterday’s One Show.  After all, there are lots of potentially offensive things on TV.  Plus, in this case, we’re talking about an iPlayer episode, the content of which has been plastered all over the news.  So you should be able to make an informed choice about whether or not you wish to see it.

Unfortunately, the BBC has denied us that choice.  They have decided what we can and cannot hear about yesterday’s strikes, and have decided to protect my ears from Clarkson’s comments, even though my eyes have been unable to avoid them on their news page.  Why haven’t they gone to the same trouble in the past with other offensive comments?

The question is, of course, whether the episode would have been left on iPlayer if Clarkson had instead said “anyone who votes Tory should be lined up and shot.” 

Meanwhile, the sad thing is that in trying to make a point, and in limiting free speech, the BBC have also denied me the chance to watch a report I’d have been genuinely interested in.

 

*Yes, really

**I’m sorry if you found reading that offensive.  Please feel free to complain about this blog and campaign for its removal.

***I am, of course, talking about the Union bosses.

1 comment:

Tim said...

I don't know if the Clarkson comments are the reason for the programme not being on iPlayer, but it's ludicrous if they are, given there's a video clip and full transcript of the event on the BBC's own news site (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-15993549). Incidentally, I don't watch the one show, but I have a lot more sympathy for Clarkson having read the transcript, as he explicitly said the joke didn't represent his view, and it was clearly meant as a joke. Unlike Karen Jennings of Unison, who compared Clarkson to Gaddafi with all seriousness.