Racist remark on Radio 4?

March 20th, 1982

To the Director General of the BBC

I am writing to protest at the racist content of a remark made by one of the presenters of the Today programme on Wednesday March 17th.

The remark in question followed an item on the medicinal use of leeches

The presenter claimed to have been told that anyone who had seen the film “The African Queen” – which he had not done, as he had not been to the cinema for the last 35 years – “would have seen a number of large, black, slug-like objects;  you might also have seen some leeches…” pause for laughter from his colleague.

I am aware that degrading innuendo of this kind is considered fair currency among the ignorant and the insensitive;  I am aware that in objecting to it I am opening myself to charges of obsessiveness;  but until that moment I had shared a naïve belief in the underlying Good Nature of the BBC as an institution, and was physically and emotionally shaken to hear such a sinister slur being given its sanction.  Continue reading

Re. Eurovision Dance Contest, 2008

My original reaction to the screening of this show in 2008 appears under Reviews.
This is the letter I wrote in response to a reply from Ofcom:

Dear Ofcom,
      I was interested to receive your reply, and glad to know that so many other viewers had complained about the xenophobic commentary to the Eurovision Dance contest that you had viewed the programme to investigate the attitudes it embodied. Continue reading

Eurovision Dance Contest, 2008

Xenophobia – BBC’s new Mission Statement?  
       (Some names have been omitted to protect the guilty…)

In last night’s transmission of the Eurovision Dance Contest, the BBC sank to new levels of bad taste.
       Over the years the various TV channels have bludgeoned us into expecting, if not accepting, the manifestation of some bizarre belief that the general public is incapable of enjoying anything that is not formulaic, snappy, glitzy, sexy, jokey and smiley.  I might therefore have been prepared for the inanities of the two presenters.  Even so, could someone (a highly-paid BBC producer, perhaps?) not have explained to the gentleman in question (presumably astronomically paid?) that the time delay in receiving transmissions from elsewhere in Europe means that to follow his scripted opening questions with poorly timed colloquial drivel served no purpose other than to make each of the foreign presenters look congenitally stupid? Continue reading