That old chestnut: in praise of the BBC

I’ve always had a soft spot for the BBC, I can’t help it. Despite the fact it has occasionally churned out some tosh (‘My Family’, ugh), and that recent Christmas programming seemed to have been entirely predicated on five hour long ‘Eastenders’ specials, the Beeb has been on a good run of form recently.

And thankfully, there are no adverts, which means hour-long shows are actually 60 minutes of broadcasting, not one hour of the actual show, and one hour of adverts, see ITV’s ‘Dancing on Ice’ Sunday night advertising marathon for proof…

Firstly, there have been some excellent documentaries over the past few weeks; including the return of the excellent Louis Theroux to the BBC, his expose of Ultra-Zionists in Israel made for jaw-dropping watching.

Andrew Neil’s investigation into the old boys club populated almost exclusively by public school alumni at the centre of British politics was pretty eye-opening too. And our public school kids got even more of a battering in a second documentary by Richard Bilton. ‘Who Gets the Best Jobs?’ was informative and stirring in equal measure. It seems what we all already suspected is true; that if you’re parents are rich, you went to a fee-paying school, and you can afford to work glamorous internships for nothing, you’re a shoe-in for a top job overseeing the great unwashed. Anyway, rant over, back to the programming.

I have to give a little thumbs up for Silent Witness too. Although occasionally requiring the suspension of disbelief, this series has been largely excellent, well acted and entertaining.

And finally, The Human Planet…brilliant, awe-inspiring stuff, the kind of thing the BBC does so well. This week’s episode featured jungle and rainforest dwelling tribes; and if you watched this show, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say that was the most amazing tree house I have ever seen. I’ve been recommending this show to everyone I know.

And interestingly, I’ve been able to recommend The Human Planet online, through the much improved and much

The new BBC iPlayer layout

more social BBC iPlayer. The iPlayer’s facelift is very successful, its far easier to navigate, you can integrate your Twitter and Facebook accounts simply, can share and recommend what you’re watching or listening to, and more importantly, you can see what your friends are watching. It may have taken the BBC a while to catch on to what many of us already know, that we as individuals are far more likely to watch, listen, like or buy something that our friends are recommending to us, but they got there in the end.

My only niggle is that most of this good stuff seems to have been squirreled away on BBC2, but beggar’s can’t be choosers. So, a big well done to our favourite Auntie, I’m not even complaining about my licence fee this month!

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4 Responses to That old chestnut: in praise of the BBC

  1. I agree – except that the best BBC content is often to be found on BBC Four (as well as Radio 4). I’m obviously showing my age, but it’s the slowness of the programmes that appeals to me!

    I gave up my subscription to Sky two years ago because of the availability of this quality ‘free’ content. I’ve never regretted this decision – and never resent paying the licence fee.

  2. Agreed, BBC Four has some excellent programming, the Abraham Lincoln documentary this week was brilliant. There is a certain ‘gentle’ pace on BBC Four, but we won’t say anything more about that!
    I do sometimes complain about the licence fee…but on the whole I think its very good value. I’ve never had Sky, and I don’t think I would ever pay for it, there is enough garbage to be getting on with on Freeview!

  3. Rob C says:

    Completely agree. Some truly great stuff from the BBC. I just hope the short sighted ideologues we just accidentally ascended to our government don’t shove their collective spanner in the works.

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