Don’t panic!

12 November, 2012 (13:06) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

What was it a great man once said? Ah yes, dear Clive Dunn in the immortal Dad’s Army: “They don’t like it up ’em!” As true now as it was then: the BBC has not liked it up ’em, not one little bit.

If only the men and women in suits had listened to those other wise words of Corporal Jones: “Don’t panic!”

But, as Brother Stents would have it, Clive Dunn has now gone over. And so, it would appear, has the BBC.

Its craven, panic-fuelled, don’t-like-it-up-us capitulation over the McAlpine affair has been worse than the revelations of the Savile businesses, for that was then. This is now.

The BBC broadcast a report, and subsequent reports, in which it was alleged that serious sex abuse occurred centred on a children’s home in North Wales. The BBC did not name any of the alleged perpetrators, in fact it scrupulously did not do so. An allegation did mention a “serious Tory figure of the Thatcher era.”

Well, that could have been anybody. Anybody at all. Back then – and the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up as I type this – everybody was a Tory.

But in a thousand uninformed blogs on the net, names were named. And I’ll bet you they’re still being named. Then, Philip Schofield, who is to investigative journalism what Wayne Rooney is to Mastermind, threw some of these internet names at David Cameron in an ill-judged publicity gesture on ITV; a clumsy camera angle captured some of the names.

From this terrible mess, somehow, has come the resignation of the hapless George Entwistle – if only he’d been the one to name names we could have called him an Entwistle Blower – as Director General, and a million po-faced articles and comments about the BBC in crisis.

From this terrible mess has come the dawning fear that nobody’s going to bother with investigating child abuse any more. They’re going to pillory the BBC instead and because, it is claimed, one alleged victim made, or was led to make, a mistake, in identifying an alleged culprit, more poor people will have their terrible stories ignored while the crowds bay for broadcasting blood instead.

Are we now saying that because one particular 80s Tory was not involved in anything untoward, no abuse at all took place at the children’s home? That all the other allegations are mistakes too? That what an inquiry did uncover was wrong? That there’s no need for a new inquiry? That none of the alleged victims are to be believed?

That how the BBC is managed is more important than systematic alleged child abuse?

That seems to be the atmosphere at the moment: I hope it changes, and big time.

The BBC should have fronted up. The BBC should have said: “We didn’t name anybody. What we did was report about allegations of serious child sex abuse, and that’s what you should all be focusing on. Now sod off.”

The BBC should have said: “Names are carelessly bandied about on social networks and blogs all over the world. We observe the law. These places and people sometimes do not. Sort that out. Leave us alone to report the news. Within the law. Like we did.”

Maybe, before Jim fixed it for the BBC once and for all, its managers would have said those things. Maybe, if the media wasn’t the most interesting thing in the world to the media, because contemplating its own navel is much more interesting and much less dangerous and much more obedient than actually pursuing serious issues, BBC figures would be making a stand here on behalf of their public. Maybe, if it wasn’t safer to nail Brucey to the dancefloor and point him at the autocue every Saturday, the BBC would be defending this latest excuse to threaten its existence as the finest public service broadcaster in the world. Maybe, if the BBC cared for an audience which may one day have to spend its annual licence fee cost every month in order to receive the beneficence of Rupert Murdoch rather than have the brilliant advert-free independent radio and TV Auntie makes, it would remember it has a spine.

Instead, tragically for the future of what was once British public service broadcasting, the “cowards and incompetents”, in Jeremy Paxman’s words, at the BBC ran around in circles shouting “don’t panic”. To the extent that they, and we, may all be doomed.

Odds and ends

As funniest remark of the week, I offer this. A Stormin’ Brother of this column was served his dinner down the pub by our attentive Sister Chef. She ushered him to his seat, made sure he was comfortable, told him to beware of the hot plate, ensured the egg upon his steak was cooked just as he liked it, guided him to the availability of condiments and finally solicitously enquired: “Everything alright?” “No,” said the Stormin’ Brother. “The plate’s the wrong way round.”

It is Movember. This has entailed the removal of the Fraser stubble for the first time in more than 25 years, to enable the sponsored growing of a moustache in aid of research into male cancers. Other hairy Brothers – but sadly no Sisters – of this place are cultivating too, and it must be said that Brother Bertie and Brother Doney are outwhiskering me. There are other Brothers who have shown rank cowardice and refused to bare their baby-bum-smooth skin: so let us, sort of, name and shame Brother Hamster, Brother Fiddle, Brother Numbers (who’s away so much he could have shaved and nobody would have noticed) and the Brother Who Must Not Be Named, who can probably be excused on the grounds that if he shaved off his mighty whiskers it would lead to irreversible climate change.

In the BBC piece I used the phrase “under way”. Now the pedants among us may have a view on “under way” (in motion) against “underway” (an adjective), but I remember my first editor used to insist upon printing the phrase as “under weigh”, saying its use as a nautical term for movement was engendered by the act of weighing the anchor. I can find no dictionary reference to this. Over to you, Brother Fiddle.

And finally…. Yes, I loved Dad’s Army too. Still do. Always will. A mirror of England, a thing of great wisdom and joy. And as a child in the playground I’d ape Clive Dunn as Corporal Jones. As a grown-up, too: many’s the time in the old newspaper days when we urged each other “Don’t panic!” as unwanted deadlines approached or, as we prepared to criticise the deserving, opined “They won’t like it up ’em.” Dad’s Army and Corporal Jones have been such a part of my life. So can you imagine the wistful joy, for me, of reading that dear Clive Dunn was a lifelong socialist?





Comment from StentsRus
Time November 12, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Example of BBC lazy, incompetent and money wasting “news”…. 1.00pm Westcountry TV headline story – Woman has mould growing in corner of kitchen in housing association property….fears for health of baby.
No mention of the thousands of children suffering and dying in Syria, Ethiopia…. She’ll get “loads” of sympathy from all the residents of Cornwall! Open the bleedin’ window you stupid bint.
As for Entwistles £450K…well he needs it, after all he’ll have to pay for his own ticket to Australia so that he can appear as one of the late additions in the “jungle”. That’ll really piss Cameron off.

Comment from hamster
Time November 12, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Thank God, when I walked in the pub I thought it was a 70’s (under the counter type film) film set for “The Four Mustachio’s” or worse still, the four of you were putting together a tribute band – The Linkinhorne Village People. 🙂

Comment from hamster
Time November 12, 2012 at 10:14 pm

Comedian and writer Sarah Millican had a said she wasn’t go to do Movember but she would do Fanuary.

Comment from hamster
Time November 12, 2012 at 10:16 pm

This weeks Hamster Top Tip – Sponsor a Brother

Comment from hamster
Time November 12, 2012 at 10:21 pm

My mistake, I have just been informed there are five bro’s growing Lady Tickler fanny duster’s so definitely no excuse not to sponsor at least one of them!

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