As a committed Indophile, I was excited to see the trailers and posters for the new Channel 4 drama series, Indian Summers. I was also a bit suspicious though: I mean, I’m really interested in that period of history, and I’ve love to see a quality TV series made about it (Jeremy Paxman presenting The Raj, a documentary series covering British-Indian history as comprehensively as The World At War, would be my pitch). But I was surprised that anyone else was.
A court in the US has found Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams guilty of copyright infringement, and ordered them to pay $7m in damages to the family of Marvin Gaye, because their song Blurred Lines sounds like Gaye’s Got To Give It Up.
Now, I hate Robin Thicke as much as the next man, and want to see bad things happen to him, but this idea of having copyright on your art and anything which is a bit like it is bullshit.
I love the BBC. It’s a vital institution: not just a beloved entertainer, but one of our stalwart defences against the hegemony of the media barons. Being publicly funded, it holds a unique moral high ground, from where it should be able to resist the corrupting influence of money and hold to account those who haven’t – such as the once august Telegraph, which is apparently rotten to the core. So it was heart-breaking to read Nick Cohen’s report on how the organisation has forced out the whistleblowers who broke the Jimmy Saville story, and promoted the managers who tried to cover it up.
The BBC’s enemies – that is, every private media company – will no doubt use this as ammunition in their ongoing campaign to destroy the world’s greatest public broadcaster. Yet the problem here is not one of public funding or structure, but of private sector ethos. The BBC has become infected with the same malaise as the rest of the economy: a parasitic class of executives with soaring, apparently uncapped remuneration, but no evidence of any real leadership worth paying for.
The BBC needs less private sector thinking, not more. The actions of its whitewashing managers give the lie to the idea that you have to pay the “market rate” of hundreds of thousands of pounds to get “great leadership”. All you get is a clique of overpaid climbers whose main effort is to protect their own positions and obscene salaries.
You could pull any random Army officers out of Staff College and put them in charge of the BBC – or the Telegraph, HSBC, or any other organisation – and you’d get better, more principled leadership than from any of these self-serving shits, for little more than £50,000 per annum.
So, last night was the final day of Crufts, and I was surprised to discover that people still watch this shit.
The sight of manicured poodles being trotted up and down by a group of vicariously aspirational oddballs is one of those regrettable tastes of former decades, like orange and brown upholstery, prawn cocktails and IRA pub bombings. You’d like to think that these things are all long past. But apparently, Crufts is still shown and enjoyed on prime time television. Perhaps, like the prawn cocktails and decor, it’s experiencing a retro comeback. Or, perhaps, the incomprehensible alien hive mind that is middle England still genuinely enjoys it.
But hey, aren’t I being a cultural snob? Isn’t it all just a bit of fun? Well, no, it isn’t. For a start, there’s the dog who dropped dead, allegedly poisoned, shortly after the competition. Even if it was natural causes, the fact that the owner jumped immediately to the hysterical conclusion of poisoning by a competitor, gives a sense of the type of bitter, deranged competitiveness that Crufts inspires. And if it was poisoning, the conclusion is the same, just more tragic.