I Never Thought I Would Say This…


….but I do believe it is time to scrap the BBC license fee.  

My husband has been of this opinion for a long time.  For most of that time, I didn’t agree with him’ I enjoy their drama output (I think of my favourite shows and documentaries and the majority were either made by or purchased by the BBC) and the suggestion that ditching the licence fee might mean their loss had me firmly in the ‘the BBC is sacrosanct’ camp.

But no longer. Why?

Their news and current affairs bias, mostly.  The slow realisation that I (and millions of other householders) are paying for them to spout EU propaganda at every available opportunity has finally alienated them to me.

Whether you voted in 2016 to Leave the EU or to Remain in it (or didn’t vote at all) you’d have to be pretty disinterested in current affairs not to have noticed that the BBC’s coverage of Brexit is heavily biased against Leave.  It’s not uncommon for their televised debates to have a preponderance of Remainers who proceed to try and shout down any Leave representative, who are always underrepresented.  It’s not just the BBC – most MSM (mainstream media) is biased, too. But that’s another blog for another day (perhaps).

Secondly…. if you read newspapers or go onto social media at all, then I’m sure you’ll have also noticed the commotion regarding the proposed rise in the TV license fee – which for non-Brits reading this, means that even if you never watch any of the BBC channels (BBC1, BBC2 and online BBC3 – Channel 4 is also owned by the BBC), if you have a television set in your house, the law says you must pay for a TV License (currently about £12 a month).  Other channels (ITV) pay for themselves via advertising.  Incidentally, it used to to be that there were no adverts on the BBC – but nowadays, promotion of other BBC shows feels just as annoying as the commercial advertising you get on ITV and the online channels. They even have a horrible habit of talking over/cutting off the credits as a show ends. *sigh*

So… back to the issue at hand. Widespread condemnation of the price hike, often accompanied by phrases such as ‘paying to hear biased views/propaganda’ is rife on social media.  The BBC now has a new nickname – the ‘Brussels Biased Corporation’. (It may have had one before, but if so I’m unaware of it)

Then the clincher – I learned that the BBC receives hugemongous sums of money in funding from the EU.  So it’s perhaps no wonder they march to the same drum/sing from the same song sheet… impartial journalism, gosh – what might that be?!?

So I would really, really like to watch impartial reporting of the facts, and to hear how events might affect the UK (either way) – NOT biased reporting skewed to a particular agenda. I would think the same if Remain had won the vote and the media was all for Leave. It’s just wrong.  So much positive news regarding Brexit goes unreported on the BBC (and other MSM sites) because it doesn’t suit their pro-EU agenda. I know that many people who voted to remain are just as fed up with it.  I would like to watch and learn from programs like ‘BBC Question Time’ and ‘The Andrew Marr Show’… but they are so very biased it is painful to watch. All one learns from them is just how low journalists/anchors/interviews will stoop, and how very rude they are to those they don’t agree with. Whatever happened to good manners?

So, I am finally cutting my emotional ties to ‘Aunty Beeb’.  I think the BBC should either use advertising to raise revenue like every other channel, or become subscriber-only, like Netflix. They should not be allied/affiliated in any way to the government of the day and so should have their corporation status removed. And most importantly, the license fee should be scrapped. It’s a mystery to many social media commentators how the BBC can rake in all that license fee money, get additional money from the EU and STILL feel entitled to put up the fee… astounding.  Looking at Companies House online, you cannot see the current accounts, because in 2006 the BBC was granted a Royal Charter, which presumably means they don’t have to reveal their accounts to the public anymore. Somehow that seems somewhat ‘dodgy’ to me…. what do you think?  Here is a link, if you are at all interested: BBC 2006 companies house.

So whilst perusing the reaction to the License Fee hike news on Twitter last weekend, I was astounded to learn that many people have been withholding their license fee for years, without being fined or sent to prison. Apparently one is not obliged to allow any representatives who might visit, into your home (they can’t break in)…?  Whether one is brave enough to stand up to them is another matter, but hundreds of thousands (perhaps more) of people do.  Whoever knew? I’m not sure I’m that brave, but I rather wish I was!

Ironically, one of my favourite BBC shows is ‘WIA‘ –  a comedy satire series about the inner workings of the BBC – commissioned by BBC2! Running from 2014 to 2017,  ‘Twenty Twelve’ and ‘WIA’ are rare and delightful examples of Brits poking fun at the BBC establishment.  How it ever got made, I’m not sure, but it’s a gem.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the BBC, whether or not you agree with mine!  Do you think the license fee should be scrapped?  You can vote in a poll here, if you’ve a mind.

So I’m sorry it has come to this, Aunty Beeb… but you and I have now fallen out!

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AKA:

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Thank you for stopping by!

Edit: just as I posted this blog, a new mail alert popped up in the corner of my screen. “Thanks for renewing your TV Licence by Direct Debit. You’re now covered up to the end of February 2020.”   Oh, the irony…. !

The Alternative Apocalypse


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image copyright BBC Television

In April 1975, a Television series written by Terry Nation (creator of The Daleks) hit British TV screens. It wasn’t like anything I, as a sci-fi-loving 16-year old, had ever seen before.  Over three seasons, it told the story of a group of people who had survived a man-made plague which brings humanity to the brink of extinction.  I was enthralled.

So… you know what it’s like when you remember a show/film/book you loved as a child/young adult, and you wonder if you should revisit it, or keep it as a fond memory, because just perhaps it won’t have aged well?  I decided to be brave and take the plunge, and invested in a box set of all three seasons (thank you, Amazon). No wonky VHS tapes, thank goodness! “We’re re-watching ‘Survivors’,” I told my long-suffering husband. He didn’t argue.

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image copyright BBC Television

Would it stand the test of time?  Gentle reader, I am here to tell you that (mostly) it does! Production values were different in the ’70’s, of course, and I have to say there are a few cringe-worthy moments (mostly involving dialogue), and the pacing is rather slow compared to today’s sometimes frenetic drama. It was also slightly strange without the sometimes omniscient music we are accustomed to (and occasionally complain about), but there is no doubt but that music does help to heighten emotion.  Without it, the action can sometimes feel a bit like a fly-on-the-wall documentary!

As I write this, we have watched Seasons 1 & 2 (I have no memory of watching the second series when it originally aired, but I’m sure I must have. My husband is certain he didn’t) and are about to start the 3rd and final season.

Overall I think ‘Survivors’ has aged well – the story is as engaging today as it was then, and still as thought-provoking. What do you do when you think you’ve caught a murderer but there is no legal system, no police, anymore? Should all women of child-bearing age have children to ensure the survival of the species, even if they don’t have a permanent partner and may not particularly want to be a mother? How do you learn survival skills when the nearest library is miles away and in a rat/wild dog-infested state? What do you do with power-crazy individuals who want to set up a protection racket in your vicinity? What do you do without medicines, antibiotics, electricity?  An awful  lot of people would die; certainly anyone who relies on regular medication for good health (I am one). People living in cities would very quickly run out of food, sanitation would very quickly become a problem.

The one area where ‘Survivors’ fails to be completely realistic (apart from occasionally rather clunky/dated dialogue)  is actually the very thing which would have insured a very short series, and throughout our re-watch my husband would make remarks about it. It got a bit annoying!  After a year, the survivors are Getting On With It and managing subsistence farming pretty well. Except, as my husband says, in reality they would probably soon be dead or dying of radiation exposure…. Think about it:  Britain today has seven active nuclear power stations, and about the same number of inactive ones. All fourteen need constant monitoring to ensure they don’t dry out and explode (as happened in Chernobyl in 1986). In a ‘Survivors’ scenario, where the majority of the population have died of the plague, it would not be more than a year before the UK’s nuclear power stations became instruments of death. Radiation would enter the water table and the atmosphere – after the Chernobyl disaster, sheep in North Wales were found to be contaminated with fall-out which had been carried on the wind. Are you scared yet?

Having said that, I can understand why Terry Nation decided (as he must have done) to ignore the nuclear threat – it would have made for a very depressing drama if his characters survived the plague only to be wiped out by radiation poisoning a few months later!

So if you like post-apocalyptic drama, and don’t mind it being slightly dated (but what fun to be reminded of Life Before the Mobile Phone!) then I would recommend having a box-set binge. You can pick up used box sets on eBay or buy it new on Amazon.

Thanks for reading!

 

Post Script:  It is now January 2019. I wrote this in September 2018, and it has languished in my ‘Drafts’ folder ever since. Oops!  So, we did finish the third series, and enjoyed it. Truly a classic.