“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
“When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn’t their fault (poor wretches) that they act first, and think afterwards; it’s the fault of the fools who humour them.”The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins, 1868
How’s that for good ol’ unreconstructed sexism? No way a writer would get away with that today. Then again, I’m reminded of what Jack Nicholson’s character says in the movie As Good as it Gets when a young female receptionist can’t resist asking him:
Continue reading When a woman wants me to do anything, I always insist on knowing why
Receptionist: How do you write women so well?
Nicholson: I think of a man and I take away reason and accountability.As Good As It Gets
Evening Chronicle, 30 August 1979
JOBLESS teenagers hope to give ailing Wearside a television tonic. They believe there is plenty in Sunderland to smile about and to prove it they are to make a film of life in the town.
The film makers then plan to send their documentary to the BBC in answer to a film about the town called “Are the Kids All Right” which painted a dismal picture of dole queues and street fights.Continue reading Picture of Wearside – in the right focus
NFU Insight, 1 June 1979
DAVID LEE, the NFU assistant press officer at Agriculture House, Knightsbridge, was giving the new issue of Radio Times a quick once-over on the afternoon of April 26. Looking across at Roger Turff, the press officer, he said: ‘I’m about to spoil your day’.
Radio Times and the Brass Tacks programme on BBC 2 was to spoil quite a number of days for both NFU members and staff; between them they also involved other specialised divisions of the Union, farmers all over the country, and almost every other organisation connected with Britain’s meat industry.Continue reading How the Union got down to Brass Tacks
Livestock Farming, June 1979
THE BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation has flipped its lid. After weeks of scrupulous impartiality throughout the general election campaign – extending to even fiction programmes – it has seemingly sought to let off steam through the medium of a new programme called Brass Tacks.
This programme – billed in the Radio Times as ‘a new concept in broadcasting – is an insult to the public intelligence and professional journalism. If the hitherto much-respected BBC has any sensitivity left it will review the senior staff appointments on Brass Tacks.Continue reading The BBC lets agriculture down
London Evening Standard, 15 May 1979
A HOWL of rage has gone up among British farmers over BBC TV’s Brass Tacks film on their industry.
“I have just taken part in a nightmare,” wails British Farm Produce Council chairman Charles Jarvis in a letter to the Daily Telegraph.
Mr Jarvis says he and colleagues in “modern meat production” were “set up” by the BBC.Continue reading Howl of rage over BBC programme
By DAVID BROWN
Sunday Telegraph, 13 May 1979
A CONTROVERSIAL BBC television programme which said people may be harmed by drugs used on farm animals, has been attacked as a “nightmare” experience and “trial by television of the worst sort” by two farm industry panellists who took part in it.
The programme, shown on May 8, was the first in a new BBC2, “Brass Tacks” series. It included a 30-minute film showing intensive farms and slaughter-house scenes, followed by a studio debate on alternative “organic” farming.Continue reading Panel protest over farm drugs show
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Daily Telegraph, 12 May 1979
SIR – I have just taken part in a nightmare. Not one of the usual kind from which one wakes to the comforting reassurance of familiar objects, but under the glaring lights of a television studio as a so-called panellist in the first of the new BBC-2 series, “Brass Tacks”.Continue reading NIGHTMARE IN A TV STUDIO
Manchester Evening News, May 10, 1979
LANCASHIRE branch of the NFU have sent a resolution to headquarters deploring the BBC’s handling of its “Brass Tacks” programme on Tuesday evening which Executive Committee members alleged was deliberately contrived to stimulate all the emotive arguments over current farming methods.
Said Mr Chris Halhead, during Wednesday’s executive meeting: “I am sick of trying to produce food for people who are constantly trying to pull the rug out from under us. People are better fed now than they every have been.
8.10-9.0 New Series
It Shouldn’t Happen To a Pig
Radio Times, 8 May 1979
Judge for yourself – as the people who make decisions come face-to-face with the people those decisions will affect. First the arguments, then your chance to join the debate.
Britain’s public health enemy number one is salmonella. It’s a source of disease that lurks in most of the meat that we eat, and it’s on the increase because of the way our farming industry is run.
Diseases spread quickly amongst pigs and chickens in factory farms unless huge quantities of drugs are used to keep them at bay. And those diseases increasingly spill over into the human population. So is it time to call a halt? Is it time to chose between cheap meat and safe meat?Continue reading It Shouldn’t Happen To a Pig, Brass Tacks, BBC2 (1979)