Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Nick Booth: The BBC needs to go on a diet. Start by stripping out pointless jobs

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An aggrievance of BBC talent – including every brand of celebrity from Dames Fry and Dench to deadbeats like Nicky Grimshaw – has signed a petition calling on the Government to stop ‘diminishing’ this national treasure. The BBC, they point out, is the creative force for good and at the heart of Britain’s creative industries.

It certainly is a precious institution – in the way a co-dependent is with its abusers. Meanwhile, all the rest of us can do is watch from the sidelines as it becomes more and more exploited. Many of us love the BBC, but we can’t stand  what’s happened to it. If it gets any more bloated, it’ll collapse under its own weight.

Well if the BBC really is our heart, we need to take more care of it. Its circulation is dreadful and the flow of nourishing ideas is choked by a dangerous build up of useless flabby management, which surrounds and suffocates all the vital organs of the broadcasting body. The pressure of this lifeblood is being held artificially high by the presence of huge amounts of corporate cholesterol – the bad sort, otherwise known as BBC Trustees.

How do we address this? A diet and exercise programme is needed. Nothing complicated and expensive mind, the simplest plans usually work the best. So we won’t be needing any expensive consultants, thank you very much.

Firstly, the BBC won’t get better unless the patient wants to change. Many of the change resisters seem to have made the assumption that they are the BBC. I suspect they are the disease, not the patient. They need to convince us they want to save the Beeb. Writing a letter only tells us that you care. You have to show that you want to save this institution.

What are you doing to make things better? Are you shunning those expensive taxi journeys and hopping on public transport?

What a great example it would be if, say, little Owen Jones were to use his Oyster card to travel to his next TV appearance. Surely that would inspire all the (not) very important people (the Non-VIPs) who work at the BBC that they too could save money.

Meanwhile, the weakened body of the BBC is haemorrhaging funds. Much of it is going to predatory private companies. I’m sure you will agree that this privatisation of the BBC has to stop. So what about closing down all those private companies that seem to be sucking the lifeblood out of our creative heart?

I’m sure all the BBC’s top talent would agree that it’s immoral to take far more than they need, in fees, and then to compound their greed by diverting the money into a tax avoidance scheme. Talk about tax breaks for millionaires!

What about shedding some of the fat we mentioned. Much of the human resource intake of the Beeb has no nutritional value at all. They’re clogging up the arteries, weighing down the organs and raising the pressure.

I know what you’re thinking. Which human resources does the BBC need? They all sound so important and the labeling can be so confusing. Well here’s a few simple ways of telling you which job titles are vital, and which are pointless.

If there’s a category for them in the BAFTA awards, they’re probably a creative necessity. If the British Academy of Film and Television Arts doesn’t feel the need to recognise them, then the BBC can probably do without them. Next time you attend the BAFTA awards scan the event programme. If there is no prize category for “Best Client Solutions Executive” and there is no long tearful ‘impromptu’ speech given by the winner of the “Head of Audiences Vision (Multi Platform Category)” then we can assume that these highly paid executives are surplus to requirements.

Before you do any drastic cutting, you may want to seek advice. There is a very handy guide to the vital ingredients of a creative work, published at the end of every TV programme. It’s called The Credits, and it lists everyone who was involved in the making of a show – from the producer to the property manager. If the BBC’s Portfolio Support Co-Ordinators and Thematic Advisors (Governance) aren’t given a credit by the programme makers, surely that tells its own story about their contribution to the BBC’s creative heartbeat. You could probably lose a few ‘executive producers’ too – that would shift a few pounds in the right direction.

That’s enough cutting – for now. There are two types of BBC employer – helpers and hangers on. If they all love the BBC as much as they claim, they can do something to save it.

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Nick Booth
Nicholas Booth is the editor of OhThisBloodyComputer and a freelance technology writer

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