The phrase ‘get woke, go broke’ captures well why Doctor Who was losing fans – and I’m not sure the writing in the new series dispenses with this problem.
You won’t be aware of this because the BBC has been keeping it very quiet. But the new Doctor Who is — wait for it — a woman!
Let me say straight away that Jodie Whittaker is a delight. Opening as the new Doctor is never easy — all that tiresome establishing rigmarole you have to go through along the lines of ‘I’m feeling all funny. Almost like I’m a completely different actor but in the same body. What can it be? Who am I? Has anyone watching at home worked it out yet?’ But already we like her. Yes, at the moment she’s still a bit of a mishmash of previous Doctors but this will change as she grows into the role. Definitely, though, she’s a personality that we’ll be more than happy to explore the galaxy and fight monsters with every Sunday and her casting was a much-needed fillip to a flagging brand.
You don’t get quite the same production values in things like C5’s How the Victorians Built Britain but you don’t get the PC bollocks of Bodyguard and King Arthur’s Britain
What a load of utter tripe Bodyguard (BBC1, Sundays) was. Admittedly, I came to it late having missed all the sex scenes with Keeley Hawes and Robb Stark, which may have dazzled me in the way they seem to have dazzled many impressionable viewers.Sex scenes in TV drama are a bit like the chaff used by fighters to distract radar-guided missiles. You’re so busy feeling simultaneously awkward and embarrassed and half-titillated, covering your eyes with your fingers, wishing your other half wasn’t watching with you because then it would be proper porn and you could enjoy it, that you sometimes forget to notice what convoluted, implausible tosh the surrounding drama is.
Climate change has been a difficult subject for the BBC, and we get coverage of it wrong too often. The climate science community is clear that humans have changed the climate, but specifically how is more difficult to evidence. For instance, there is very high confidence that there will be more extreme events – floods, droughts, heatwaves etc. – but attributing an individual event, such as the UK’s winter floods in 2013/2014, to climate change is much less certain.
We must also be careful to distinguish between the statements. For example: “Climate change makes this kind of event both more frequent and more severe,” and “Climate change caused this event”. The former uses previous scientific evidence to say ‘it is likely’ the event is the result of climate change, whereas the latter may be making an assertion without the proof to back it up.
What’s the BBC’s position?
Man-made climate change exists: If the science proves it we should report it. The BBC accepts that the best science on the issue is the IPCC’s position, set out above.
But the BBC has decided the era of the middle-aged male presenter is over, which is why the only thing I can bear to watch is Bondi Rescue.
All the good non-fiction things that were ever on TV — from Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth(the bits where he’s not proselytising about climate doom, I mean), from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s arty jaunts to Italy to Jonathan Meades’s bizarro forays into architecture, from The World at War to all those more recent war porn documentaries narrated by Sam West, from Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs To Fly to Louis Theroux doing a number on Jimmy Savile — have one thing in common: they were all made by middle-aged men.
Middle-aged men are the business. They’re comfortable in their skin; they’ve got hinterland and character; they’ve put in the hard yards and the long hours getting to know their stuff in that obsessive way only men really do; they’ve replaced the glibness and flashiness and irritating bumptiousness of youth with sly wit and bruised wisdom; they’ve mastered their craft, they know their shit — and now they’re giving the rest of us the benefit of their expertise, as middle-aged men have been doing since time immemorial.
University Challenge – Britain’s best quiz show – is making its questions “gender neutral” to encourage more women to participate.
If you believe the show’s executive producer Peter Gwyn, this is a jolly good thing:
“Perhaps ‘gender-neutrality’ is what we aim for,” Mr Gwyn said. “We try to ensure that when hearing a question, we don’t have any sense of whether it was written by a man or a woman, just as questions should never sound as if they are directed more at men than women.
“We believe very strongly that the more representative, inclusive and diverse we can make the programme, the better and more interesting it will be.”
No it won’t make the programme better and more interesting. It’s a disaster.
We’ve already had a taste of this in the increasing preponderance of boring questions about obscure also-rans from history who have only made the cut by dint of the fact that they’ll help fill the programme’s gender quota. “Which composer of Fantasia on Crochet, rated by JS Bach as the third most-talented lutanist in Leipzig, first made her name…”
Yawn. No one cares. No one’s interested. There are only so many questions you can ask about famous people where the answer is Marie Curie – so let’s move on and accept the fact that almost everything notable in history that was done in science, literature, politics, war, religion or any other field was done by men.
The Daily Mail has published a rubbish piece by Michael Howard, former leader of Britain’s Conservative party, attacking Donald Trump, claiming that man-made global warming is real and that Margaret Thatcher was a true believer.
The piece is headlined “30 years ago, Mrs Thatcher warned of man-made global warming. I fear this blazing summer is proving her right.”
It’s drivel – worthy, if one could be bothered, of a complaint on grounds of accuracy to the press regulator IPSO.
I’ll detail its faults in a moment. The fact that so rigorous and robust a newspaper should publish such dross is worrying indeed.
Though some loathe its mix of prurience and sanctimony, the Mail is one of the last truly great British newspapers. Its journalists do real journalism. It is tightly edited. It is a bastion of conservative values and it speaks for Middle England, as it showed when – against its proprietor’s wishes – it stood up for Brexit. Also, for years it has stood out as one of the few media strongholds of climate scepticism. Often it has published pieces by Christopher Booker – and in its Sunday edition by David Rose – and also by me on occasion exposing the flaws in the climate consensus.
Plus: the women who love Jeffrey Dahmer: Netflix’s Dark Tourist reviewed.
Apparently there’s a new ‘character’ on University Challenge. I wouldn’t know. Last year, I vowed never again to raise my blood pressure by exposing myself to its new, gender-balanced questions: ‘Your starter for ten: which composer of Serenade for My Cat, rated by her father as the equal of Bach’s Goldberg Variations…’ Don’t know. Don’t care. You bastards ruined it, just like you ruined Sanpellegrino and Lucozade.
Same applies, now I think about it, to all the other programmes on the BBC. I never watch anything on it for pleasure these days: only out of duty — to see what the enemy is thinking — and also so I can keep up to date my list of all the people I’m going to have exiled to bare rocks in the Outer Hebrides when I’m king. It’s the kindest thing. They can live on puffins and inbred Soay sheep and discover their inner selves.
The alarmists have come up with an exciting new name for climate change: Hothouse Earth.
As we’ll see, shortly, this has nothing whatsoever to do with new discoveries or indeed plausible scientific evidence of any kind. As usual, it’s just propaganda by the usual suspects on their usual mission to usher in an era of fascistic “global governance” where democratically unaccountable “experts” police every last detail of our lives.
Hothouse earth – aka ‘climate change’; aka ‘global warming’; aka ‘global climate disruption’; aka ‘global weirding’ – was invented by a bunch of activists at a hitherto deeply obscure scientific institution calling itself Stockholm Resilience Centre. Until they got a study published last week nobody – probably not even the people who work there – had heard of the place.
But because Stockholm Resilience Centre said all the right scary things about the imminence of global man-made climate doom, the left-wing media treated it like the voice of God.
According to the BBC‘s breathless account of the Stockholm Resilience Centre’s study:
It may sound like the title of a low budget sci-fi movie, but for planetary scientists, “Hothouse Earth” is a deadly serious concept.
Researchers believe we could soon cross a threshold leading to boiling hot temperatures and towering seas in the centuries to come.
Even if countries succeed in meeting their CO2 targets, we could still lurch on to this “irreversible pathway”.
“Deadly serious concept”? No. You were right first time with “low budget sci-fi movie.”
Not that you needed another reason to loathe and despise the BBC – but check out what it has done to this interview with Jordan Peterson.
Peterson was being interviewed for a BBC World Service show called HARDTalk, presented by former foreign correspondent Stephen Sackur.
On screen – and in his presence – Sackur introduced Peterson as: a “Canadian clinical psychologist whose defence of traditional values has won him a worldwide following.”
But once Peterson was out of the way and the interview was in the bag, the BBC went and renosed the interview for the podcast version – prefacing it with all manner of sneery innuendo and barely-disguised loathing.
“His big thoughts about the importance of traditional values, the onus on men to toughen up and the dangers – as he sees it – of a neo-Marxist political correctness appear to chime with the spirit of our times. At least for a swathe of alienated, angry men. Peterson has in fact been described as the perfect public philosopher for the Age of Donald Trump. To his critics – and there are many – he is simply an intellectual apologist for a reactionary, sexist brand of conservatism which seeks to thwart progressive social change.”
The BBC isn’t any better – with one honourable exception: the Daily/Sunday Politics and This Week, which of course the BBC have decided to cancel.
When President Trump refused to take a question from a CNN reporter at the Chequers press conference last week, I imagine a lot of British viewers thought —as Theresa May clearly did — that he was being graceless, capricious and anti-freedom of speech.
But I think we’re in danger of underestimating the extent to which the media landscape has changed in the past few years. Gone are the days — if they ever existed — when political interviewers were dispassionate seekers-after-truth on a mission to get the best out of their subjects. Now, it’s mostly activism-driven, the aim being to advance your preferred narrative while showing up your ideological opponents in as unflattering a light as possible. When someone sincerely believes you are a shit and their only purpose is to persuade everyone else that you’re a shit, why would you choose to grant them that opportunity?