Saturday, February 28, 2015

Understandable vehemence ?

Often reviews of history books are more entertaining than the tomes themselves, if the reviewers are selected with a little flair.

Jean Seaton's volume of BBC history, "Pinkoes and Traitors" gets a kicking from Guardian writer, Seumas Milne, son of Alasdair, de-DG-ed in 1987...

The book is littered with inaccuracies and demonstrable distortions: from names and dates to the self-serving spin of those who have survived to tell the tale. In the case of the Thatcher-inspired sacking of the director general, Seaton claims he had been “misleading the governors” over the Maggie’s Militant Tendency libel action and that they had “intended” to sack this “zombie DG” for three years. There is no evidence for either claim.

In the FT, Lord Patten calls the book entertaining and wise - but then, it only goes up to 1987. He does, however, volunteer some thoughts about his own time at the Corporation.

Seaton brilliantly describes the sequence of events whenever the BBC has to endure what the former Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer has called its Saint Sebastian moments, the arrows raining down on unprotected flesh. Relentless external onslaught, with the broadcaster making good copy because of “its combination of celebrities, political misdemeanours and popularity”, provokes “nervous breakdowns and latent civil war”. Then, she notes, “as a matter of honour, BBC news would savage the Corporation.” It did this recently over the disgusting Jimmy Savile case with understandable vehemence, given the uproar over the reasons for the shelving of an exposé of his criminal behaviour by a BBC current affairs programme. We now know that he was a monster. It is salutary today to read some of the newspaper obituaries published in 2011, which make him sound like Mother Teresa.

Lord Patten became BBC Chairman in May 2011.

I wonder who the Sundays will wheel out to give their views.

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