Saturday, April 13, 2024
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Inside the BBC Bunkum Factory


As part of the BBC series Inside the Factory, Gregg Wallace went inside the corporation to see how its programmes are made.

Gregg: When John Reith became the BBC’s first general manager in 1922 he had a simple product range he called Reithian Values.

In the life of this strict Presbyterian, nothing came between him and his Calvin Lines.

As crazy as it may seem now, the very first season of Reithian Values was notable in that every BBC production had three purposes: to inform, educate and entertain.

How very different from today!

Little could Reith imagine all the thousands of confections that would appear in the modern BBC.

Today the BBC content producers create some fabulous concoctions, from the simple Mash Reports for kids to Auntie’s famous Upside Down Take.

I’ve come to meet Peter Kipling, content director, who says the BBC must make content for the exceedingly ‘snow flake’.

Kipling: So, the scale of revenue collection is immense. The BBC makes 25million people pay for a TV licence every year.

Gregg: God, that is amayyyy-zing! And each one of them is giving you a hundred and fifty-five paaaaaarrrrnnnds! What happens if they don’t pay? Do you send the boys round?

Kipling: Yes, that’s exactly what we do. We outsource a fleet of enforcement officers to put the squeeze on anyone who pleads poverty.

Gregg: But according to your own partisan presenters, people across the country are so poor they have to choose between heating and eating. Where are they going to find a hundred and fifty-five quid? Are you happy with sending in the heavy mob?

Kipling: So, that’s not really my concern. So, the enforcement officers are not our employees, so we have plausible denial over anything they do.

Gregg: Coooo-waaa! Kick those doors in, eh!

[Cut to a meeting room.]

Gregg: Here I am at a planning meeting. All these people here are programme makers or presenters. Jeremy, what do you do?

Jeremy: So, a substantial part of my work is reading off an autocue. On my day show, I take a simple news item and ask the viewers the same question every day. Are they all just a bit racist, or sexist? Or xenophobic?’

Gregg: And for that simple job, you get the money that free farrrrrsand and nine hundred people needed just to heat or eat?

Jeremy: So. Exactly?

Gregg: ’Ere! Couldn’t you get a machine to do your job? Then all those poor people could eat. Or heat.

Jeremy: So, it’s not that simple? So, the BBC is uniquely funded? So, can you get out of here?’

Gregg: Well, that’s all we’ve got time for now. In Part Two I will be finding out how the BBC makes all its out-of-this-world-class confections.’

Jeremy: So, security? So, so get this man out!

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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