There has been plenty of discussion in the last year on whether or not we need the BBC. These are usually prompted by broadcasting and media companies who are not the BBC, such as News International, whose James Murdoch’s McTaggart address to the Edinburgh TV Festival contained plenty of attacks on ‘Auntie’. His accusation that the BBC has monopolised the media in this country is so rich as to cause nausea, coming from someone whose father’s company has such significant global concerns. Of course their major gripe is that the BBC is, no matter what the Murdoch’s may try and tell us, incredible value for money, and they can’t stand this. I can only imagine the financial shafting that we would receive if they had their way and the BBC was disbanded. Charging for online material would just be the start. The BBC may not be perfect, but thank Lord Reith that it exists.
BBC4’s current This is Scotland season provides the perfect riposte to anyone who says that the BBC has lost its way/is a waste of money/is unfair. The programmes that they have broadcast have included a documentary on Balmoral, Denis Lawson looking at the influence of Knox and Calvinism, Jonathon Meades’ guide round Scotland, and one of the best programmes I have seen in years; Peter Capaldi fronting A Portrait of Scotland. Capaldi, who is an alumni of Glasgow School of Art, took the viewer through a history of portrait painting in Scotland from Alan Ramsay to his old classmate Peter Howson. I can think of few things better than spending an hour and a half in Capaldi’s company, which may seem odd to people who only know him from The Thick of It, but he is much more Local Hero‘s ‘Oldsen’ than ‘Malcolm Tucker’.
Coming up this Thursday evening at 9pm (17/09) Alan Cumming looks at Scotland on Screen, including looking round Cumbernauld with Gregory’s Girl director Bill Forsyth, which promises to be one of the highlights of my year. I urge you to check out some or all of these programmes. It’s surely what BBC’s I-player is for. It’s an obvious thing to say, but these programmes would not be made by anyone else but the Beeb.
For more information: www.bbc.co.uk/tv/features/thisisscotland