THERE are times when you’d wonder if the B(ritish)BC’s producers are the full shilling. Given the things they headline and get into a moral lather about, and the things they don’t headline and don’t get even mildly disturbed by, they’re maybe not even the full sixpence.
What’s preoccupying them to a high blood pressure degree at present is That Interview Martin Bashir did with Princess Diana in 1995. The BBC is self-flagellating at a terrific rate for having allowed Bashir to do the interview and for having colluded in silence over the faked bank statements that cleared his path to the interview.
All this came out as a result of an independent inquiry by Lord Dyson (no, Virginia, not Dust-sucker Dyson – this one’s a Lord and a former senior judge). The good Lord made it clear that Bashir “lied and maintained the lie until he realised it was no longer sustainable. This was most reprehensible behaviour which casts considerable doubt on his credibility generally.”
Let’s have a fact check, before we all go mad.
1. The BBC did not use waterboarding to get Diana to do That Interview. She did it of her own free will, and was glad to, since it let her release a few broadsides at the British royal family, whom she detested almost as much as they loathed her.
2. The BBC did not hire a driver, pour a bottle of wine down his throat and then say “Drive into that tunnel like the hammers of hell and crash the car, killing your Royal passenger and, if necessary, yourself.” The driver of Diana’s car appears to have done the fatal crash all off his own addled judgement.
3. Bashir is not the first nor will he be the last to use dodgy tactics to get a programme aired on the BBC.
Even if BBC reporter Martin Bashir did everything he is accused of, Princess Diana conspired in the interview and wrote that she was 'very happy' with it. The current sanctimonious 'scandal' is no more than a cover for the Tory far right to lay its plans to destroy the BBC.— John Pilger (@johnpilger) May 25, 2021
If the BBC wants something to feel guilty about, it could meditate on the elbow room it gave Jimmy Savile for years and years. Having some experience of the Corporation myself, I can say that one thing it’s not short on is gossip. It’s impossible to imagine how not one staff member of the BBC smelt a rat when Jimmy was around. I mean, which would you rather: give work and airspace to a guy who forged some bank statements to get a gig, or work and airspace to a notorious sexual predator?
And now Prince William Windsor, aka the Duke of Cambridge, aka the heir to the throne [ Prince Charles in a small voice: “What about me?”] has launched what is reported as “a scathing attack’ on the BBC for fuelling the “fear paranoia and isolation” his mother suffered. What’s more, he felt “indescribable sadness” at the fact that the BBC knew that Bashir had used flaky documentation to get the gig.
For God’s sake, Prince Billy. No-one could deny that life handed you and your brother a big parcel of pain when your mother was killed in that car crash. But you didn’t need to be a royal-watcher at the time to know that she was bopping around with various men other than her husband, that she didn’t like having Camilla as a rival for Charles’s attentions and that herself and Charles were heading for the marital rocks.
In a week when men, women and children were being slaughtered in relentless assault after relentless assault by Israel on Gaza, feeling “incredible sadness” over a fake document from thirty years ago shows how wrapped up in themselves the royals – and the BBC – are.
The lazy and seriously dull soap opera featuring the Royals is one thing. But to present the residents of Windsorworld as bruised victims – please, guys, no more. Instead, let the BBC, rend its garments over the way it reported the Troubles in Ireland for thirty years. And still feels no need to explore one of the many killings detailed in Anne Cadwallader’s book Lethal Allies, or even the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.
Feel like a bitter laugh? We pay the salaries of these people.