Graham Carter: Don’t turn national institution BBC into political football

Maybe it’s my age, so help me out here: every time the role of the BBC in British life is mentioned, am I the only person who is instantly transported to hundreds of happy memories?

He was always there in the corner of the room, like a smiling, knowing and friendly member of the family. They didn’t call her ‘Auntie’ for nothing.

My parents were passionate about radio – more passionate than we are – but the BBC was always, for them, as comforting and as warm as an armchair.

Jimmy Young, Jimmy Clitheroe and Sports Report.

The Six O’Clock News was there too, defining the world with reports from Biafra, Belfast and Buckingham Palace.

Some people loved their school days, but not me, and if I had to pick the highlight of my whole education, it was probably watching the 60 dots disappear from the clock at the last minute before we were excused appropriate lessons and that we sit down to watch a BBC Schools programme.

While we waited for Girls to be invented, we fell in love with BBC comedy, sports, drama and, to be honest, most everything else they aired.

Morecambe and Wise, Monty Python and Dad’s Army; Wimbledon, Test Match Special and A Question of Sport; Dr Who, Colditz and I, Claudius; It’s a Knockout, Parkinson’s and University Challenge.

Then there was a Magical Mystery Tour of music in which the BBC premiered The Beatles on radio and TV, nurtured the 1970s New Wave and – if you liked that sort of thing – played Proms .

Top of the Pops, John Peel and Live Aid.

Even today, as we occasionally and reluctantly tune in to big-budget companies like Netflix and Disney+, there’s still a big place for the BBC in our homes and in our hearts.

QI, Would I lie to you and anything with David Attenborough in it.

And then there’s all those things the BBC does that are beyond me, from the World Service to CBeebies, and from Radio 1 to Call the Midwife – a program that I hate, to be honest, but I’m married to someone who love it .

They are all invaluable. And locally?

In each of my encounters with anyone from BBC Wiltshire over the years, what has always struck me is their cool professionalism.

And notice that thousands of people in Swindon still call it BBC Wiltshire Sound, a sort of local version of ‘Auntie’ – which is saying a lot.

So it’s particularly sad every time someone attacks the BBC, especially when the best reason they can find for wanting it gone – or admitting it – is that it’s not perfect. But that’s wrong with those of us who have understood that in fact, nothing in the world is perfect, let alone large organizations. But it’s pretty close.

And that is certainly no reason to turn a national institution and an international beacon into political football.

Sports evening with Coleman, grandstand for the cup final and match of the day.

Comments are closed.