Thursday, 26 June 2008

Confused Corporation

The Director-General of the 'Beeb' assures me that it was never their intention to portray his predecessor Sir Hugh Greene in an unflattering light in the "comedy drama" Filth. Rather, they aimed to present a picture of "a committed, forthright and principled broadcaster whose position on censorship was in stark contrast to that of Mrs Whitehouse".

However, "whilst the story was factually based, it also, inevitably, required a degree of dramatic licence", and the BBC recognise that "contrary to his portrayal in the drama, Sir Hugh did not use strong language, either in his professional life or amongst his family." But his family had seen a preview of Filth and regarded it with "amused tolerance and a generous acceptance of the spirit in which [it] was made" as a fiction based on real events. So that's alright, then.

The D-G solemnly concludes: "it was not the intent of the BBC to broadcast a film which did any disservice to Sir Hugh, nor took lightly the significance of his leadership of the BBC in one of the most important periods in the history of the Corporation".

To which my only possible reply is that whatever their intention, the film did do serious disservice to the memory of Sir Hugh Greene; and that my view is shared by several other people who, like myself, were involved in anti-censorship campaigning during the 1960s and had personal knowledge of, and contact with, both Greene and Mary Whitehouse.

I find the degree of confusion - and indeed, evasion - in the BBC's letter quite disturbing. If they had wanted to produce a "comedic film" about their arch-enemy Whitehouse and her feud with their then Director-General, they should have prefaced it with the explicit disclaimer that "nothing in this film is intended to bear any accurate relation to the facts". But they did not do so, and a host of viewers who knew nothing of the protagonists at first hand - as I did - were left with an utterly misleading impression of their actual characters and actions.

I'm almost tempted to start a "Clean Up the BBC" campaign!


zola a social thing said...

As Prof. H. Carr used to say " History moves".
Oh if only it did not!

Jose said...

It isn't a bad idea, Anticant. Time for the auntie to get its screws tightened.

That holiday of yours has reinvigorated your stamina.

Bodwyn Wook said...


Whereever do /I/ sign for BBC D-G?


butwhatif said...

E H Carr, you mean, Zola?

Funny you should mention Carr, Zola, just when over on Merkin's, he's echoing one of Carr's fundamental points (made in his The Thirty Years Crisis) about how national leaders hijak the term 'International Community' to dress up distinctly national, selfish ends.

Have you looked into hiring out Birmingham Town Hall, AC?

anticant said...

Carr was a curious character. He wrote some excellent stuff - such as the one you mention - and also loads of drivel about the wonders Stalin had performed for Russia. I expect you know he was a 'Times' leader writer for many years.

I shall not be hiring Birmingham Town Hall - though at a NCCL [Liberty] AGM I did once defend Colin Jordan's right to do so, to the fury of the 'no platform' knee-jerk brigade.

Merkin said...

Some excellent articles, Anti, since you got back - I echo Jose's thoughts. Those hot thermal Italians have given you a boost.