I have an abiding memory of my early work on Red Dwarf.
Back in 1989 we used to rehearse at the BBC’s rehearsal rooms at West Acton in London, we’d then all pile on a bus and trudge up to Manchester to record the shows at the BBC’s Oxford Road studios.
When we were there members of the Manchester crew told us that BBC management had just spent over £1 million refurbishing the offices on the top floor.
The budget for Red Dwarf (in terms of viewing figures the most successful show ever produced for BBC 2) was nowhere near that.
I had a quick look around the offices with Danny John Jules one night, we didn’t break in, we were escorted by BBC staff so it was all above board.
Having refitted a couple of buildings myself I knew an expensive plug socket when I saw one.
The hundreds of plug sockets in the BBC Manchester offices where flush, brushed steel wall sockets, the most expensive on the market. Those offices were very high end, very swish.
This is nothing surprising, why should BBC employees have to work in damp wooden sheds with antiquated wiring. Of course they shouldn’t.
But a little reminder, we paid for them.
However Manchester residents will be well aware of the fact that these offices are no more. They’ve been demolished because the BBC have moved to even more plush, even more expensive new development at Salford Quays.
So, okay, the BBC spent a million quid on posh offices in 1989 and then threw it all away.
Recently there’s been a deluge of stories of BBC executives getting staggering pay offs after a few weeks having lunch and ‘making management decisions’ like ‘where to have lunch.’
George Entwistle (who’s he?) worked at the BBC as director general for 54 days and got a £470,000 hand out when he left.
Now, classify me as a low end, embittered ex BBC employee if you want to. I should point out that Red Dwarf was an independent production made for the BBC so although I’ve done a few kosher BBC gigs (Bottom) I’ve never been a BBC employee.
I bloody wish I had, give me a pay-off, half of George Entwistle’s, I’ll be well chuffed.
The danger with this easy target BBC bashing is of course that it plays into the hands of the ultra right wing British press, the Daily Fails, the Torygraphs, the vicious boot grinding into the face of the British working class otherwise known as the Sun.
Behind them, News International and the Murdoch empire and just in case you are wondering, they hate the BBC more than anyone. Why would that be? Beats me.
They all hate the BBC and contrary to the tone of this blog, I do not.
I think it’s a vitally important part of British life and needs defending.
The people who actually make programs at the BBC are in a totally different category, they make programs which is, after all, what the BBC is about.
But it can often appear that this activity is crushed down by this vast, amorphous, self serving management structure that absorbs billions of pounds a year doing what?
As an outsider, even someone ostensibly in the industry like me, it is utterly baffling.
What do these bloody boring people do all day?
I’ve never met any of them, they make ‘management decisions’ I assume.
They guide the BBC, they oversee the organisation, they make editorial decisions, I don’t know, I’m making it up as I go along.
Why do they need to be paid so much?
The answer is always ‘We need to attract top talent.’
Everyone who’s held a key job at the BBC goes on to insanely overpaid jobs in large media companies all over the world. It’s a brilliant calling card, ‘I used to run the BBC.'
So I am suggestion they should be paid half what the people who actually produce television and radio shows make, they should work in a damp shed in an unfashionable part of Doncaster, they should all cycle to work and have meetings in tents.
Then I’d respect them.
It does feel like a particularly ugly part of a much wider malaise in the ‘developed world.’
A very few people pay themselves a truly sickening amount of money because they have wheedled their slimy way into a position where they decide how much to pay themselves.
We as license payers fork out to support the BBC and they are literally laughing in our faces for being such dumb suckers.
This government hate the BBC, the previous government hated the BBC, any powerful people who want to exert their will over the rest of us hate the BBC and these few twats at the top are making sure the BBC’s life expectancy is seriously curtailed.
This government obviously want to flog the BBC to News International, just like they’re flogging the hospitals we paid for to their dodgy mates in private medicine.
We should be angry and shouty about it, we should make it clear to BBC executives that they need to show us in very clear terms exactly what it is they do for these ridiculous sums.
For more details on the truly appalling levels of fat bastard paydeals, have a look at this.