Is there a chance that the new Top Gear will be very entertaining but not (borderline) offensive?

The list of past Top Gear controversies is long. There have been allegations of homophobia and criticism of the mockery of Argentines, Mexicans, Germans and Romanians.

I have great respect for Jeremy Clarkson as a motoring and general writer. But he presents a persona to the public which teeters on the brink of controversy and often falls over the edge.

I have always enjoyed Top Gear – even since Angela Rippon and Noel Edmonds presented it – but particularly with the “famous three” of Clarkson/Hammond and May – when it basically became a comedy programme with some wheels thrown in.

I did, however, feel that they had “jumped the shark” with their antics. Firing a body into a hospital was their selachimorpha hurdling moment.

The announcement that Matt Le Blanc will join the Top Gear team is an interesting one. One feels the other presenters, still to be announced, will have to have a more professional background in motoring. But Le Blanc’s comedy acting skills should ensure that the comedy side of the programme is well nourished. He knows how to do the right sideways look at the camera, that’s for sure. I also feel that Matt le Blanc is hardly likely to enter into any Clarkson-like controversies. As Nick Grimshaw said on Radio One (yes,I occasionally git dan wiv da kids), nobody has ever said the words “I hate that Joey off of Friends”.

Having followed the career of Chris Evans relatively closely (two of his auto-biographical books, which I have read, are very good reads) I can say this. He is occasionally as nutty as a fruitcake. He occasionally goes off on an egotistical tangent. He is mostly breezily entertaining, and he certainly knows how to produce entertaining TV. He is never offensive.

So, the signs are encouraging for an entertaining and inoffensive new series of Top Gear. One lives in hope that you can have those two things together.

But, then again, the new series has the huge resources and expertise of the BBC behind it, and it is their biggest franchise. They can’t really muck this one up.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • I always liked Top Gear and never liked much of what Clarkson had to say about anything , but the truth is that it became his show and being unlikable doesn’t stop people being good at what they do. It’s like the band Slayer,, dodgy personal views, but they made a great racket. The main difference is that for it was not illegal to avoid paying them a fee to Slayer just because you happened to own a CD player.

  • I don’t have high hope for Evans on this, I’ve found his past stuff tolerable rather then entertaining and I’m not sure the ego would be easily kept in check. I think the BBC rushed appointing him.

    Only time will tell.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 8th Feb '16 - 6:12pm

    Like Paul, I’ve been a Top Gear fan for many years. There have been times in recent series when I’ve cringed and been horrified at what passed for humour, but it remained a guilty pleasure. I think the right decision was made over Clarkson’s unacceptable behaviour towards a producer.

    I have reasonably high hopes for Evans and Le Blanc. I just hope that they’ll have some female co-presenters. The show has had quite a few in its almost 40 year history – not just Angela but Julia Bradbury, Sue Baker, Michelle Newman and Vicki Butler-Henderson. It’s now time to re-establish it in the 21st century. Women can be petrol-heads too. I have to admit that my eyes were out on stalks on the bus going to Cardiff airport yesterday afternoon as we passed the Maserati garage…

  • Can’t stand Evans. Amazing how such little talent can earn so much money these days. Won’t be watching.

    Going to miss the old trio who had a good chemistry (Clarkson pushed the boundaries but he was good at what he did) – Last of the Summer Wine on wheels.

  • We’ll see. It won’t be the same show other than the branding and I’m pretty sceptical it will have anything like the international appeal required to generate the big bucks. It’s ironic isn’t it that Clarkson who is often accused of xenophobia (amongst other things) created a show loved in practically every country in the world. Looking forward to JC’s new show on Amazon a lot more than the BBC’s offering.

  • David Evershed 8th Feb '16 - 7:27pm

    The Top Gear audience are not offended by Clarkson and those that are should watch something else.

    Neither will the Top Gear audience be offended by Chris Evans or Matt Le Blanc.

    However, because it is now only online at Amazon instead of on a traditional broadcaster it will get fewer viewers in the UK, although a lot more in the USA.

  • Thomas Shakespeare 8th Feb '16 - 9:04pm

    @David Evershed
    “The Top Gear audience are not offended by Clarkson and those that are should watch something else. Neither will the Top Gear audience be offended by Chris Evans or Matt Le Blanc.”

    Some Top Gear viewers did find bits of the programmes offensive. There are several incidents, for example Clarkson describing a car as “gay” a few years ago. I think Paul is just pointing out that he hopes the news series will be less offensive and more inclusive.

    I was/am a fan, but I see that parts could be offensive. Most were intended to be light-hearted and there were some over-reactions from the media. I think the nursery rhyme incident was blown out of proportion, but many disagree.

  • The fact that you write a pleasant appraisal of a programme with no particular political or social content ,is welcome and of interest to me, though , as a non driver with therefore zero interest in cars and the programme concerned !

    Once upon a time we would be talking about programmes with tv presenters like Leonard Bernstein , Jacob Brunowski or Sir David Attenborough , or refering
    to those now Peers , Lord Winston , Baroness Joan Bakewell or our own , Baroness Floella Benjamin. They ,every one the result of subsidy , but none of them controversial. No spats in tea rooms or punches over dinner . No racist or insulting inferences .No lad culture paid for by us all being forced to pay for it ! Instead, programmes that needed subsidy to survive , and needed to thrive , not survive, because they were needed .

    “The new series has the huge resources and expertise of the BBC behind it “. That is what you say , Paul .That is the point and the problem .So did War and Peace .Tolstoy and Top Gear . On the same subsidised BBC ! One can be said to be , or indeed ,is public broadcasting , employing many at the highest and newest level , talent , in every aspect of creativity .The other is popcorn magazine entertainment, nothing wrong with that , but justifying its subsidy as a documentary series ! It belongs on commercial television .Its controversy should be in that it is paid for by the poor at the threat of prison !!!

    When a Liberal and Democratic party stops being complacent on that issue and supports real public broadcasting ,to be paid for by grants from the Department of Culture ,and encourages discussion on the future of the BBC, without resorting to scares about Fox news ,and looks at Sky Arts , which is akin to public broadcasting , and at elephants in the room like Top Gear , which is not , then we shall know our party is in the real world .

    And Paul , you and Mark and anyone who wants to , can enjoy Top Gear on BBC …. COMMERCIAL … and I can switch on War and Peace on BBC …. PUBLIC… !

  • Mark , very good to hear from you as I like your stance on most things but not this one ! Of course you are correct in the pure economic sense of that , but that subsidy goes to pay for salaries that executives in the subsidised sector of any other area of our culture can only barely imagine , not to mention the massive pay offs when those same senior staff fail and leave , or the inflated ego fees of otherwise commercially driven entertainment figures ,etc.And different departments have budgets that are non transferable, no Top Gear money for any worthier programmes !

    And it still does not justify a compulsory flat licence fee to access that which comes by virtue of buying a television set in practically every other democratic free country , the right to watch it ! There are many models of funding for a major subsidised company making a fortune ,rightly as a result of success , and ploughing the money back in .The National Theatre and RSC do not force people who are on benefits to pay for what they cannot afford .And they do rather well with quality .

    In a multi channel open access world , the licence fee is unsupportable .In a Liberal party that favours progressive taxes , with the poor paying none , in this party , it is immoral ! Tony Benn called for the abolition of the tv licence thirty five years ago . The Greens , in perhaps their best policy , do now . Anyway ,why should the money only go to the BBC.Even the National Theatre and the RSC do not have a monopoly !We as Liberals are supposed to be against monopoly ! And , considering we also do not like non violent misdemeanors to lead to jail ,the “get me out of jail card “is needed here , as that is exactly where some poor people are as a result of non payment !

  • Lorenzo.
    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Looks like I’m in a minority of one here, but I find the fact that Top Gear encourages and glorifies the petrol head/boy racer/Mr Toad culture that causes death and misery for so many families far more offensive than the programme’s 1970s-style xenophobic jokes. The old-style programme, with cheesy presenters in driving gloves admiring a Ford Escort in the grounds of Pebble Mill, was just about tolerable.

    I’ve always found the indifference people feel towards road deaths to be curious, given how acutely sensitive we are to unavoidable deaths in other contexts. Interestingly, of course, Clarkson was an ashen-faced wreck when his friend Hammond was badly injured in a crash while filming for the programme. A few months later, when Hammond had recovered, the pair of them were back on Top Gear “hilariously” mocking people who HADN’T recovered so well from brain injuries. Not a pleasant programme.

  • ” nobody has ever said the words “I hate that Joey off of Friends”.”

    Erm… I have. Sorry. I also can’t stand Chris Evans.

    The thing is, I also detest Jeremy Clarkson, or at least the persona he projects, which I suspect is in large part artifice… and yet I still watched Old Top Gear, and still found it funny. It is perfectly possible to enjoy a piece of art (because, lets face it, that’s what Top Gear was) without endorsing or even liking the views of the artist(s). Slayer fit into that category for me, too, Glenn. And Iron Maiden, who are tories, lets not forget.

    So I shall probably give new Top Gear a chance. But I’m not holding out much hope, because as I said at the beginning, I can’t bear either of the two so-far-announced presenters. I’m hoping that the rumours are true and we get Sabine Schmidt for the third; I’d watch the hell out of her.

  • Ian Sanderson

    “The causes of some of his criticisms have their roots in the Thatcher period when public service ethos was denigrated in favour commercialism and ITV executives like John Birt, where first head-hunted to work in the BBC.”

    I would agree with the timeframe but the cause looks off. The BBC looks like an organisation in the grip of a very strong group think, it is one that would probably be described as “metropolitan left” it doesn’t reflect those who disagree with it and actually presents those who would agree with its view point with a rather boring content that doesn’t really challenge them and becomes sloppy in its understanding. The BBC does need to come up with a plan to move to a better funding model (personally I favour a hybrid model, also giving the public more input to the governance) but if it doesn’t break its current group think it will waste away as standards continue to drop.

  • PSI.
    I disagree that the BBC was ever Metropolitan Left bar a few comedians now and few plays decades ago. It was essentially started by and is still pretty much controlled by very old fashioned British power elites. The main purpose was to make sure that the new medium of radio and then later television were under control. It’s roots are authoritarian and class based. If it seems “left wing” it’s more because people have become more socially liberal rather than because its remit has changed. Personally, I resent paying an enforced fee to be patronised and especially so now that there are better news services, better sports coverage and better programs elsewhere. Plus as anyone else noticed that a lot news items on Beeb channels now link to shows later in its scheduling or that rather a lot of the entertainment shows are made up of “celebrities” it employs in other capacities, Strictly, Celeb mastermind etc.

  • For an organisation based on an “unsupportable” funding model, the BBC is performing remarkably well. It has a third of all TV audiences – by far the largest share of any broadcaster, and over 50% more than ITV’s share, which is a reversal of the situation that existed for decades prior to 2001. It achieves this despite BBC TV and ITV having roughly similar revenues. BBC TV’s share is going up while all its major rivals are in decline. The BBC also attracts over half of all radio listeners, and its website has more visitors in the UK than any other except Google, Facebook, Youtube and Amazon.

    Not bad for a supposedly archaic organisation in decline.

    Emaciating the BBC would make no sense while it continues to be so popular. Nor would changing the BBC’s funding model be quite the win-win situation some people here seem to think. This would have massive repercussions across the entire media industry. It isn’t only the BBC that is supported by the license fee; other broadcasters benefit massively from the fact that the BBC, in return for its license fee money, is prohibited from competing for advertising revenue. With that in mind, plus the BBC’s market dominance in terms of viewers, it’s little wonder that ITV chiefs such as Lord Grade are horrified by any thought of scrapping the license fee. Any substantial meddling with the license fee would have to be done in the context of a review of the entire TV industry, since the license props up a much wider structure beyond the BBC.

    Factor in the amount of GDP growth the TV license fee generates (the media is one of our most productive industries), and in fact the removal of the license fee would not save license fee/tax payers nearly as much money as some of them think it would. For all these reasons, I think the government will tread a lot more carefully around this than some would like, and a large publicly funded BBC will be around for a long time, but that’s not to say there won’t be some tinkering around the edges (such as charging for iPlayer).

  • Stuart,
    Well I am forced to pay for the BBC by law and so I do occasionally watch it on the grounds that I’m paying for it whether I watch it or not, which really only extends the odd political discussion and MOTD. So to me arguments about it’s viewing figures are all very fine and good, but they do not counter the fact that it is illegal to watch television broadcasts on any channel in Britain without paying the BBC. Personally, I really resent it and I want other people be able to watch TV without the threat of legal action or unwanted intrusions which includes phone calls, home visits, threats of fines, endless reminders etc. It’s called choice. If you want the BBC then by all means continue to pay for it, but if you don’t then that should equally be up to you. Sky manages without threatening everyone who happens to own a TV or some sort of viewing device and so should the BBC. Most of the rest of the world does too.
    I barely watch TV and when I do virtually non of it is on the BB blummin C and even less of it is produced by this legally enforced “Entertain” multi-national multi billion £ big business.

  • Glenn
    Thank you
    Thank you
    In the memory of many on the BBC of old words come to the fore , “you cannot be serious ?!” John McEnroe , aside , Stuart , if you are a Liberal , what you advocate makes no sense . You cannot force people to pay a flat fee for something many cannot afford. Do you favour a flat tax? If your analysis were correct re the market share and advertising , what sort of justification is that ?Do you always think of Lord Grade and his shareholder friends ahead of people on benefits who might like to watch a little television as they have nt got the money to go out on the town, when advocating policy is the elite of the media industry your priority ?!

    The very mention of Grade , and the thought of Patten , now in his Winter solstace placeman position at Oxford University , makes me potty with despair !A hierarchy , who have never been accountable to anyone , who jump ship just to avoid being pushed , and continue their gravy train ride , with their meal ticket at the ready !Not that they ever get inspected!Unlike the poor folk in fear of the detector van !

    If you only see , those of us , the vast majority according to opinion polls , who want an immediate change to the licence fee model , most of us do so precisely to not only save public broadcasting , but to enhance it .Look at the programmes I alluded to , I want a tax payer funded , one channel BBCPUBLIC, a credit to this country , its arts and education and science broadcasting .I do not mind what the BBC does with its other channels , just as long as it calls it or them BBC COMMERCIAL , funded by advertising , subscription , whatever it wants , anything but enforced dishonesty !

  • Glenn

    “I disagree that the BBC was ever Metropolitan Left”
    “it’s more because people have become more socially liberal”

    Well I would consider most of the (public sector and some big business) power elites as metropolitan left. It has a number of prejudices that I share (pro immigration, pro EU, pro regulated markets, favouring green policies in general) but it seems unable to understand why it holds those prejudices. And on top of that it looks to mock those who hold opposing views rather than recognise that opposing views can be legitimate and are based upon a different weighting of evidence and different priorities.

    My description of ‘metropolitan’ reflects that it is the accepted view around a diner party in moist big cities and in particular in west London or Islington. The problem is that people who live in big cities surrounded by similarly minded people can become very insular while being convinced they are very open minded. It isn’t as coherent as other ideas on the left where they are actually consistent, it is just a mish mash of prejudices based upon broadly left ideas, but may not actually be consistent with each other.

    There is a reason the guardian is considered the BBC “house” publication. There are significant example of BBC interviewers/presenters betting pulled apart by people who’s views are outside of the BBC’s Overton window, not because the ideas have any more merit but because the person from the BBC hadn’t been exposed to the arguments.

    The views of the public has moved over the years but not to the extent that the views of those in the media (and particularly the BBC) have.

    Personally I’m very concerned about the EU referendum due to exactly this problem, eurosceptics has been treated with derision and have been ‘contained’ rather then addressed for years it looks like the pro-EU position is flabby and out of shape. In a specific debate on the merits the Leave side has had to work harder and get better at communicating making it possible for them to out manoeuvre the Remain side.

    People always seem to thin the BBC siding with them as just ‘being logical’ actually it is very dangerous, when your side is able dominate you get lazy and less effective.

  • PSI.
    So basically you’re peddling the trendy metropolitan elite trope and some guff about city dwellers and expecting to just have it accepted as a given. Dude, I disagree with that as well.
    Having been round many dinner tables in many places including some cities, your statements do not ring true at all. There is no consensus amongst the “elite”. Plus the Guardian is no more representative of an elite than the Telegraph or Peter Hitchens etc. It’s not like any of these people are voiceless or on minimum wages or even average wages. To me the main problem with the BBC is that I have to pay for it when I barely watch it and it is essentially a government mouthpiece with an old establishment history.

    As for the EU vote it will go one way or the other and if it’s close the argument will drag on.

  • Glenn

    So let’s follow this through, the BBC doesn’t suffer from a metropolitan group think because Peter Hitchens had a column in the Mail on Sunday? I think you missed the point.

  • @Lorenzo
    Actually I quite like the Greens’ policy as well – they want to fund the BBC out of progressive general taxation, which is absolutely fine with me. Let me be clear, I was not arguing that the current license fee is the best possible model (though I disagree with those who describe it as “unsupportable” – people have been saying that for decades, yet it will almost certainly persist to 2026 at least). What I was arguing against was (a) replacing the license fee with advertising and/or subscriptions, both of which would damage the entire sector disastrously, and (b) shrinking the BBC beyond the extent it’s already planned to.

    I don’t agree with your suggestion that a “BBC PUBLIC” channel should not show popular programmes. It’s good that the BBC produces a fair number of hits – this provides value for money for license fee payers, and encourages other broadcasters to up their games in competition. You say that War and Peace would be at home on your “public” channel, yet that particular programme achieved better ratings than any of its commercial competition on the same evenings. Public service does not always have to mean unpopular!

    I have no interest in defending Lord Grade (still harbour a grudge for him axing Dr Who in 1985 literally weeks after I joined the Dr Who Appreciation Society!), though it’s not true to say he’s not accountable – what about the ITV shareholders? He’s worked most of his life in the private sector. I mentioned Grade only as an example of somebody who understands that the license fee supports the media industry way beyond the confines of the BBC. You talk about fat cats but you know full well the vast majority of people working in the industry are not remotely like that. It’s a good industry, culturally and economically, and we all ought to wish it well.

  • Glenn

    Let’s try and pick out some bits you missed. Firstly the metropolitan elite term is hardly “trendy” it does however fairly accurately describe a particular elite (as I pointed out above the elites of public sectors bodies concentrated in large centres. That does not mean they are the only type of elite, the telegraph or Murdoch type is another but unless you are suggesting ole’ Rupe or the Barclay brothers are running the BBC I don’t see the relevance.

    I would agree that the main concern is that the BBC is a large dominant monopolist that raises it’s funds under threat of the law. I would rather any compulsory element were minimised and most funding raised via voluntary means. However in order to make that achievable the quality would need to improve significantly which would require a breaking of the current group think.

  • @Glenn
    While I can appreciate you not wanting to pay for a service you do not use (er, except that you say you do actually use it…), I do wonder why people like yourself make such a fuss about the license fee rather than any other item of taxation. Is it just the psychological effect of having to buy the license that does this? If we were all obliged to purchase, say, an annual nuclear missile maintenance license (cost: approx. £100 per household) would people be equally up in arms about that? Actually maybe they would – I could be on to something here…

    I’d defend the license (or, as mentioned in the previous post, a more progressive form of general tax) in two ways. First, use of the BBC’s services is virtually universal – around 97% of UK adults use it every week, for an average of 18 hours each. I think that’s pretty impressive and makes the license seem much better value than just about any other kind of public expenditure. Second, I think public service broadcasting is really important and we’d be a much poorer national culturally and intellectually without it. With the commercial broadcasters having virtually abandoned the whole concept, I’d say we need a BBC now as much as ever.

    I find it amusing that most of the pressure applied on the BBC comes from sulky right-wing media barons like Murdoch and Rothermere. These men are the high priests of private enterprise; their papers have been brainwashing us for years to believe that public enterprises cannot possibly ever work as well as the private sector. Well if that’s the case, why don’t these people stop whingeing and simply compete the BBC out of existence? How does the BBC manage to remain by far the most popular broadcaster and content-driven website in the land? It isn’t a question of resources – the BBC has only 20% of UK TV revenues but snaps up 33% of the viewers and produces 40% of the first-run programmes (excluding sport). It’s not a question of the BBC being free to air – even in households which pay a fortune to subscribe to Sky, BBC1 is the most watched channel.

  • PSI.
    No I’m saying that the idea of a metropolitan elite working to a particular “left wing” agenda is conspiracy theory level baloney and that you can point to prominent voices on the right just as easily. And having sat around many dinner tables I simply don’t find there is ant real consensus. My argument re the BBC is that it seems more old establishment in origin and outlook than anything else, to the point where to me it some times looks like an public funded employment scheme for Oxford and Cambridge and various prep schools. I would end the licence fee in a shot simply because I don’t think there’s a good case for its existence when there are other services that do not make legal threats against people for the heinous crime of owning some kind of viewing device. I don’t actually care if it’s Left Wing or Right Wing, I care that I’m forced to pay for stuff other mega bucks entertainment conglomerates do better without taking legal action over the use of technology they didn’t invent and haven’t really developed either. The concept of the Beeb is simply ludicrous as far as I’m concerned.

  • PSI

    In my view the BBC is feudal rather than Leftist. To me a left wing BBC would be about public access and maybe community based. It wouldn’t be a way of enriching “star” performers and executives through a flat rate tax on entertainment. But perhaps we have a different view of Left v Right. I see it as largely an economic rather than social debate.

  • My phone is deleting my replies I’m going to have to give up until later.

  • Stuart
    I watch it because I pay for it. If I had a choice I wouldn’t pay and I wouldn’t miss it. I suspect a lot of people think pretty much the same. As I said earlier I see the BBC as more as more of neo feudal organisation levying an entertainment tax on us peasants than as a public service and I don’t really see Left or Right wing politics as particularly relevant to the argument. The difference between it and the Murdoch empire is that I’m not forced by law to contribute to The Sun or whatever and I don’t really see that the BBC is much better or a counter balance anyway. On any given day Sky News and the Beeb are virtually interchangeable.

  • Stuart
    Thank you for your measured response.I agree and disagree .First clarity .Gradewas unacountable when at the BBC , and is again as a Tory peer !Apart from an occasional vote he might put in !

    As for the nature of the reality of the industry , I agree , I first joined Equity myself , nearly twenty years ago !

    I do not want unpopular programmes on the BBC PUBLIC Channel I advocate , I want genuine culture and quality difficult to achieve without subsidy ,and or if achievable without , money spinners of equal quality , all profit put back in .

    I favour a gradually massively reduced BBC in this sense , I only want one BBC PUBLIC Channel, the rest should be privately funded, I favour a mix of subscription and commercials .Therefore if the BBC COMMERCIAL Channel , wants to be Channels , thats for it to fund , not me or us all !

    I do not want the extent of public support the Greens favour .They want no real change to the amount or quality of the BBC , just three or four billion of government subsidy ! I do not want any public money for the sort of programmes they make much of the time . Top Gear ,Strictly come dancing , Graham Norton etc are fine and dandy , not paid for by a levy or tax !

    The two greatest pioneers of television , were Britain and the U.S. The Americans went for a predominantly commercial model , but never scrimped on quality , because of the level of artistry and commitment of all involved .They added PBS , a channel of great breadth and creativity , poorly funded , by donation .

    We in Britain , went for a purely public option , initially .One channel , with a mixture of programmes to satisfy ., of great quality at times .As soon as ITV emerged , the nature of British broadcasting was odd.Similar quality ,often ,on both sides of a divide regarding funding .

    I want a free society , free people .Compulsion only to prevent and punish harm .A free people watching better publicly funded television !

  • P.S.
    I liked your approach , it is a subject very dear to my heart . Your patience with my level of gusto, previously , is appreciated!

    As a young actor twenty years ago , I was, told on a job where I worked with my hero Richard Attenborough, that I one day would be right to play Doctor Who .B eing a fan from the Jon Pertwee era , who met the man himself , when a small boy , and being what in the business is known as ” a character lead “, as a description of attributes and what kind of actor one is ,I considered approaching the holders of the rights to purchase them for the stage , not very hard or expensive probably then , as Grade and co nor anyone gave a monkeys about it .I considered devising a one man show , something along the lines of ” Who does he think he is ?”I did not do it , and the rest is history !

    A car accident that has left many issues changed my career in that I moved more to writing , but have , in my later forties been returning to the “biz”!Who knows ?!

  • @Lorenzo
    Your idea sounds very interesting – more so than most other Who projects from recent years. Of course Capaldi was also a fan from the Pertwee days – he’s living the dream for both of us. I too met Pertwee a few times (and saw him play the part on stage in the ’80s), in fact I met all the “classic” Whos except Hartnell. Happy days…

  • Glenn

    “idea of a metropolitan elite working to a particular “left wing” agenda”

    Well that is not what is being suggested, a “weft wing agenda” would have a better chance of being coherent than the general metropolitan left group think. It is where there is a strong tendency to focus on giving prominence to voices that confirm their biases (as there the ‘rational’ ones, right?) and presenting opposing arguments in a biased light. The presence of dissenting voices is not sufficient if you are a broadcaster who holds a monopolistic position in the broadcast market and is dominant in the online space too. If you are supposed to be impartial you need to actually work hard at it (it isn’t easy we are all humans and subject to baises). The problem is not just that it skeps debate but it also makes content boring.

    There is no “conspiracy” it is a natural impact of group think which develops when large groups are allowed to ferment in their own group over time.

    As to whether it is a left v right thing, it is not a perfect description (partly because it is not a cohernat viewpoint tah is trying to achieve something but a set of biases, but it does include a lot of views from different parts of the left [though not exclusively, it is biases not an ideology]).

  • Psi,
    I’m not going to argue with you anymore. I think the idea of a “metropolitan Left Wing elite” is just a tired old trope. Whether you call it Left group think or elite or metropolitan whatever it makes no difference. It’s like a to of other conspiracy level fantasies peddled on the internet requiring zero evidence, based mainly on repeated assertions etc.

  • “fantasies peddled on the internet requiring zero evidence, based mainly on repeated assertions”

    Google is your friend…

  • PSI,
    Yes google is my friend. If you look up the heads of the BBC since it was formed you will find that the key factor is not politics. It’s private education and the Oxbridge universities. I can pretty much guarantee you that people from the same narrow pool are also over represented amongst there top executives and virtually their entire roster of regular Newsnight presenters and a good proportion of even the BBCs light entertainment presenters too. In short my contention is that the BBC is not dominated by a Metropolitan elite, it is in fact dominated by the old elites that have virtually always dominate public life in Britain, from the civil service to the higher echelons of law. In short the BBC is an old boys and girls network that some seem to think should maintain a birth right to take money from everyone else under legal duress. There is nothing remotely Left Wing about this cod feudal entertainment empire beyond a sort of politically unaligned social liberalism. As I said earlier to me Left and Right-wing are more defined by economics than social attitudes. You can be Right or Left wing and have liberal social attitudes . Look at the Conservative Cabinet, most are liberal in the social sense but economically are very different from the Left. Which brings me to the other point is the EU really that defined by Left and Right anyway.

  • Not far from me, another car full of teenagers being driven way too fast ended up wrapped round a tree the other night; one killed. Meanwhile the BBC boasts that the new Top Gear series will “leave even the most hardened speed-demons gasping for breath”. In some cases, literally. As a prominent part of the speed culture in the UK, Top Gear is probably partly responsible for more blighted lives – especially young lives – than any other programme in TV history. The BBC ought to put morals before profits and put it out to grass.

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  • john hall
    Thanks for your reply Mick. I have to say that you - along with many others - have swallowed Israeli fake new. Hamas did NOT use rape and beheading of babi...
  • Nigel Quinton
    Isn't stealing signs a criminal offence? Why are people not reporting them to the police?...
  • William Wallace
    Years ago, when the Conservatives still had activists who could deliver their own leaflets for them, I was skilled at extracting Tory leaflets half-hanging out ...