So, Jimmy Savile and all that. The hidden well of suppurating pus beneath the now-picked scab of BBC light entertainment.
It would seem that vast amounts of Doctor Who were made by an organisation that, in its widespread branches and ascending echelons, actively colluded in facilitating and covering-up the abuse and rape of children. Lots of children.
By itself, this observation is irrelevant to the wider scandal, and to dwell on it from the fan standpoint would surely amount to morally myopic solipsism of the first degree. What matters isn’t how we feel about it, or how it changes our viewing of contemporaneous episodes. On the list of things that matter, that’s so far down that it’s in an appendix, in small print. Yet it surely demands some thought from those of us steeped in the show, in the history of it and the watching of it.
Most of us fans have – via the videos and DVDs and toys and… ahem… websites – given unreasonable amounts of our time and loyalty and extra money to the BBC. The same organisation that cosetted and enabled a man who, beyond being a routine right-wing shitsmear of a type all-too-common in the entertainment world, was also a known child rapist. The BBC, the makers and marketers of the children’s own show that the adults adore, instititionally sat on the knowledge and did nothing.
We shouldn’t, of course, be shocked out of any illusions about the BBC being a beneveolent, lovable old auntie or any such mindless, sentimental bollocks. I’m now past the point where I’d be happy to take part in any ‘Proud of the BBC’ campaigns. I guess even Mitch Benn would probably not write the same lyrics, were he writing today.
No, no. The BBC News helps naturalise and peddle and thus facilitate wars, invasions, corruption, hard-right government policies, police brutality, neo-liberal assumptions galore, and a thoroughly establishment view of reality. This is it’s notion of balance and objectivity. Andrew Marr and Jeremy Vine and other such clueless parrots of capitalist realism, spewing endless reiterations of hegemonic ideology. BBC drama and comedy and entertainment shows – Doctor Who included – generally promulgate deference, hierarchy, cultural racism, heterodoxy and conformity, heteronormativity, contempt for the working class and bourgeois values. The BBC, as a force in the culture industries, instinctively advocates respect for authority and royalty and capitalism and established power.
That it is loathed and hated poisonously by the Murdoch press and the rest of Britain’s reactionary print media is testament only to the fact that, being publically owned, it doesn’t earn profit for the capitalist class directly, and even cuts into a wedge of the market. Being nominally accountable to the public, it is occasionally capable of mild deviations from the ideological ultra-lunacy of the press, red-top or ‘quality’. From the standpoint of Melanie Phillips and persons of her loathsome ilk, it’s communism to even affect neutrality over, say, Israel/Palestine, even if the real effect of your coverage is to perpetuate all the reactionary lies peddled about the conflict. That the BBC isn’t ‘as bad’ as the Daily Mail is no excuse. It may even be its own special kind of crime, since the appearance of sanity and neutrality gives its heavily ideological programming a veneer of respectability that the Mail lacks (for all but the most far-gone).
It’s also a hierarchical institution, run by relatively wealthy, expensively-educated members of the social elite. It should be no shock that it will engage in ruthless arse-covering, upward arse-kissing and total disregard for the rights or testimonies of people lower down the pecking order. That’s what hierarchies are like. That’s what they’re for.
Even so, and granting all of the above, I’d be worried about myself if I weren’t still shocked by the corporation’s wide-ranging complicity in and cover-up of child rape. I am. I should be. So should we all. We should all be uncomfortable when we next sit down to watch a favourite episode, knowing that it may have been filmed in the same building where Savile was sat, perhaps fondly remembering his most recent conquest, secure in the knowledge that the people upstairs would do nothing about it.
Anyone anxious to re-watch ‘In a Fix with Sontarans’?