The BBC’s Creative Director, Alan Yentob, seems to have spent the last week or so dashing from studio to studio in an attempt to influence the corporation’s broadcasters from saying nasty stuff about a charity of which he was, until it imploded, chairman. The incompetently-managed Kids Company is now mercifully defunct. Yentob has subsequently admitted to having contacted Newsnight before the programme broadcast an investigation into the charity. He also harangued BBC correspondent Lucy Manning and stood in the cubicle watching as Today attempted to cover the story. If anyone else in the BBC had demonstrated such a magnificently brazen conflict of interest, they’d be out. But as a former senior exec told me: ‘Yentob is Teflon.’ Yentob has also been sticking up for that garishly-dressed lard-mountain of Persian self-regard, Camila Batmanghelidjh, the Kids Company boss. An achingly right-on charity led by an achingly right-on woman and an achingly right-on BBC executive. Give your money to Help For Heroes instead, huh?
Despite this, I’ve always had a bit of time Yentob, to be honest – as at least he is not one of those relentlessly proliferating middle managers. The man has talent in abundance. His programme, Imagine, seems to me occasionally lazy and misguided in its choice of subject matter, but its existence is surely a Good Thing. But even so, his behaviour over the Kids Company business would have seen the departure of anyone else you care to mention within the BBC, including the DG.
I still cleave to a notion of a public broadcaster, though – and I know many of you don’t. My radio is tuned permanently to both 4 and 6; if I watch anything on terrestrial TV it tends to be by the BBC. My own predilections are not a justification for the license fee, I know. But I have the suspicion they may be your predilections as well, presumptuous though that is of me.
And just one example – only an example – as to why the BBC is more trustworthy than the rest when it comes to quality. One TV show I do watch is The Football League Show, which until this season was on the BBC. Now it is on Channel Five and has transmogrified into bone-headed, cretinous, shite. Just because the team I support isn’t terribly good doesn’t mean that coverage of its performances should be similarly inept.
Anyway, I’m off for a couple of weeks. Hope you enjoy your summer holiday, if you’re having one.