Tag Archives: BBC

Educational Apartheid

The top comprehensives may be able to give a child an excellent chance of an elite university place; the private schools can virtually guarantee it. All else said on the subject is waffle.

The 7 per cent of children who attend private schools take nearly half the places at Oxford and Cambridge and nearly a third of the places at other elite universities such as Durham, Manchester and Bristol.

It is crude educational apartheid and a major obstacle to the equality of opportunity that New Labour says it wants.


Peter Wilby, The Observer, 7 July 02

Public services run by targets will either seize up or explode

“Although New Labour may have come to power talking of ‘joined-up government’, in practice it has approached policy from the exactly opposite point of view – breaking a problem down into its component parts and then attempting to solve them in a linear fashion…

“As author Jake Chapman, a well known systems thinker, points out, there are two important properties of complex human-activity systems. One is that they can’t be managed by the use of crude performance targets, which bend them out of shape and make implementers ‘look the wrong way’ – at the targets rather than the needs of their clientèle. Nor, second, can they be managed by reductionist, command-and-control methods, because of the many unintended consequences.

“Instead, such systems have to be carefully managed for long-term, incremental improvements by ‘introducing learning processes rather than specifying outcomes or targets,’ and their success judged by users, not governments….

“Chapman’s important pamphlet contains a powerful warning. From a systems point of view, it is no accident that unintended consequences are multiplying like boils all over the public sector. The traditional mechanistic approach to policy has been savagely undermined by increasing complexity and interconnectedness; in a more complex world, policy really is becoming more difficult, to the extent that without a change of method, failure will be increasingly common.

Meanwhile, eaten by their toxic incentives, public-service organisations run by targets on command-and-control lines will, as an absolute certainty, become more dysfunctional and more neurotic until they either seize up or explode.”

Thinking outside the box, Simon Caulkin, The Observer, 26 May 2002

BBC copied ‘That’s Life’ format and gave it to a BBC senior executive’s girlfriend!

Bernard Braden died 9 years ago having never fully recovered from the injustice that overshadowed his career, when the BBC dropped his programme, Braden’s Week, and replaced it with a copy: That’s Life.

The fact that it was presented by the then unknown Esther Rantzen, who had been Braden’s junior researcher, and was later discovered to be the girlfriend of a BBC production executive, Desmond Wilcox, added insult to injury.

Barbara Kelly, Daily Mail Supplement, 25 May 2002

Diversity at the BBC means acting and thinking like them

Two of my colleagues at the BBC have regional accents and are very experienced, yet they are constantly asked: ‘Which university did you go to?’ There is this unspoken reality that, although I look different from you, I must act, think and speak the same as you, which is then promoted as diversity.

Unnamed BBC Journalist, The Guardian, 13 May 2002

Top jobs have become more male and Oxbridge dominated under New Labour

Tony Blair’s pledge to destroy the establishment that controls large swathes of British life has been shattered by research showing that the country’s ‘cultural gatekeepers’ are still older, white men, most often educated at either Oxford or Cambridge.

“If anything, appointments under New Labour have become more male and Oxbridge-dominated” said Damian Tambini, author of the Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) report, All Change at the Top?

Kamal Ahmed, The Observer, 14 Apr 2002

Television companies steal ideas

It’s an open secret that if you’re an independent producer and you go to see the BBC or C4 with an idea there’s as much chance of you making that idea as somebody else.

It’s a lunch cartel. You go in and pitch an idea to someone, then they go out for lunch with some mate and say, ‘You know what. This guy came in with this rather good idea, what do you think about it?’ and their mate will say ‘Yeah, that’s good,’ and they’ll go away and add a couple of bells and whistles.

Charlie Parsons, Co-Founder Planet 24, The Guardian, 14 May 2001

How TV programmes get made

“Every few months the senior executives at BBC and Channel 4 and ITV leave to take up similar jobs at a rival channel, where they immediately sack the existing staff and bring in their mates from their last jobs. They then cancel programmes and commission focus groups of unemployable daytime TV- watchers with personality disorders to try and find out what viewers want.

Meanwhile, writers are summoned from all over the country to dream up ideas for vibrant new, original programmes – ‘We don’t know what we want but we’ll know it when we see it’ – which are then ditched in favour of pet, cookery, gardening and home improvement shows, or more shite with Nick Berry in.

This time I’m considering pitching an idea about two sick dogs who swap homes. While they’re away they get looked after by sexy vets, and their gardens and kennels have makeovers. Then they die and get barbecued by Ainsley Harriott. I’ll need about a month in England for meetings with various chancers, charlatans and posh boys calling themselves producers, then I can go back to Ireland for as long as I like.”

Pete McCarthy, McCarthy’s Bar, 2000

TV penetrates our lives in ways we scarcely realise

“Nothing happens, nothing is to be believed, unless it appears on the screen. The fact that we should know better is irrelevant. The film Broadcast News questioned the values of TV news-gathering but ended up with a cosy belief that good drives out bad. Nor did it disturb the central tenet of all TV, which is that goodness and badness are irrelevant to the audience.

The person who appears regularly on the box is imbued by the viewers with special prestige. TV is the springboard to fame. Fame provides money. Money equals power. And power, whether to control one’s own life or to exert control over other people’s lives, is the key to existence.

Many films have attempted to warn those either beguiled or blinded by fame, that the world on TV is not real, It is, at best, a one-dimensional representation, while celebrity itself is a hollow concept.

But TV is a complex creature which cannot be defeated like Godzilla: it penetrates our lives in ways we scarcely realise, The grip it holds on our thoughts and the limits it puts on our imaginations is stronger than we wish to acknowledge.”

Roy Greenslade, The Guardian, 1999