From Ghosties and ghoulies and long-legged beasties that go bump in the night / Good Lord deliver us.

Some recent reviews (some of which, like this post, contain spoilers):

Chicken Yoghurt on Torchwood

The Sharpener on Torchwood

Dumbjohn on Torchwood

Behind the Sofa on Torchwood

Eric Lee on Tor… Spooks

After reading the three links about it above I had to remind myself that I had found Torchwood genuinely scary. (“Look at that mask, it’s like real teeth, honest- aaagh!“) Its biggest problem is that it is lazy. It’s billed as Dr Who plus sex. A sure-fire winning combination, you might think. Having thought that, Russell Davies and his team sat back and didn’t think much further.

I offer no justification for posting a few more of my observations about the programme on a website allegedly about the political bias of the BBC other than longstanding tradition, rights of co-ownership and a profound sense of social duty.

  • Suzie’s speech asking what do you do after you’ve done this job, was believable. And the way she complains that we on Earth never get the good alien stuff, just the dross, was a good way of turning round one of the most obvious failings of the show, its derivativeness, and making it a plus point.
  • Good, because if Torchwood scored any higher on the derivatives index it would be under investigation by the Securities & Exchange Commission. Just one more “We are a secret alien-catching organisation outside the government, beyond the UN” and it’ll get sucked down a Black Scholes. Dumbjon says the plot of Episode 2 was ripped off porno movies. Speaking for myself, the rip-off source uppermost in my mind was two episodes of Star Trek, one from 1967 and one from 1968. Whatever, we’re not talking cutting-edge plot development here.
  • Kids will watch this programme. I know it, you know it, the creators knew it.
  • One of the characters, Owen, gets hold of and uses a date rape drug, one that really works. Was the scene where he ends up naked in the cell meant to be his comeuppance? I’m not demanding to see him suffer in order that the right morals be drawn – I have lived long enough to know that criminals frequently do flourish unpunished – but I am interested in seeing if the series “knows” he is a rapist. This could break either way. Future episodes might show the effects on him and his victims of his willingness to use people’s bodies without their consent, in which case it could be a good SF examination of the corrupting effects of power, or the series could continue to portray him as, in the phrase used on an interview in the show’s website, a “cheeky, flirty, maverick.”
  • Why is Jack still in his WWII RAF uniform? When it wears out, does he get a new one from Smarts Army Surplus in Pontypridd?
  • There are too few people in Torchwood. They all seem to work evenings. What if alien baddies strike at 9am?
  • OK, that’s meant to be because the London Torchwood got zapped by the Cylons and the Daleks and the Scottish Torchwood disappeared for reasons described in episode comingupsoon. But I’d think that would be all the more reason to slap a couple of million on the Supply Estimate for security and secretarial services, wouldn’t you? However the Dr Who back story does give another opportunity for making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. A recurring glitch in Dr Who is the recurring amazement expressed by characters (usually in their last few seconds of life) at evidence of alien activity despite the fact that London and/or Cardiff is buzzed by an alien spaceship or invaded by murderous alien-controlled animate store dummies every other episode. It’s like someone fainting dead away at seeing a real, live Polish plumber. Well, Torchwood made a virtue out of this reaction. Apparently it’s widely believed that there weren’t really cybermen in every living room, it only looked that way because terrorists put psychotropic drugs in the water or something. A less responsible drama than this Dr Who spinoff would make out that it was all done by Mossad to make Muslims look bad.
  • Let’s see, so far members of the Torchwood team have committed three murders, an unknown number of rapes and intefered with the proper burial of a corpse. Through Gwen’s initial incompetence in chucking the chisel and the team’s subsequent incompetence in allowing the alien to escape by entirely, indeed boringly, predictable means they have also failed to prevent a massacre of around a dozen people at the fertility clinic. Our heroes also acquiesced in Carys’s murder of her ex-boyfriend. (Since she says he could have saved himself, that must mean that she was at that stage capable of controlling the alien insider her. If she was capable of controlling it and did not do so then by death-bonking him she committed murder.) What does it take to close these guys down, a Piglet mug?
  • Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

    Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.

    The Director-General responds

    . Mark Thompson writes:

    Judging by some of the headlines over the past week, there are people out there who think the BBC is dominated by trendy, Left-leaning liberals who are biased against Christianity and in favour of multiculturalism.

    Like all the best conspiracy-theorists, though, they don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. But let’s put the myths and rumours to one side and take a quick reality check.

    A bit off, calling Andrew Marr a conspiracy-theorist like that.

    That worked out well, then.

    Adloyada writes on the BBC’s treatment of quotas for faith schools. I’d noticed how the BBC has been framing the debate in terms of “the archbishop again denied…” and had began to think of writing a post about it. Adloyada beat me to it, and also looks at what I would call actual misrepresentation of the positions of the various branches of Judaism. For instance it gave a lot of air time to Reform Rabbi Jonathan Romain, a committed opponent of faith schools.

    The BBC itself also repeatedly chose Rabbi Romain to interview throughout the week leading up to the final decision about the quotas. Neither they nor the BBC gave listeners any clue that Romain does not speak for the Reform Jewish movement– whose movement is currently expanding its provision of Jewish schools—or any other group of Jews.

    The reason why Adloyada’s first sentence in the quote above speaks of “the BBC itself” is that she had just before that said that the BBC gave yet further coverage of Rabbi Romain indirectly, by quoting Kenneth Baker (inaccurately) implying that Rabbi Romain was typical of the Jewish view.

    Lord Baker was quoted so often by the BBC in news bulletins and Ceefax that I had, quite wrongly, got the impression that his view was that of the Conservative party as a whole. I had jeered that this opportunistic reversal of previously held principles was just typical of them, opposition for opposition’s sake… Blimey this hurts. Me, having to admit that I was suckered by the Beeb.

    The cherry on the top came in the form of who the BBC chose as an example of a happy product of cross-cultural schooling. If you don’t yet know you’ll have to read right down to the bottom of Adloyada’s post in order to find out because it’s not something you’d ever guess unaided. I don’t blame the school, I really don’t – these things happen – but, really, he’s not exactly going to feature on their list of distinguished Old Boys, is he?

    BBC Views Online censorship in action:

    compare and contrast these two news reports of the same court case:



    Pregnant girl ‘pinned against post by racist road rage Doc in 4×4’

    A GP drove her car at a pregnant nurse squashing her against a post in a road rage clash, a court heard yesterday.

    Sarah Chambers and her boyfriend chased Dr May Arnaot, 50, after she allegedly hit their Fiesta and did not stop. They ended up at a petrol station where Miss Chambers, 25, said she asked Arnaot for her details.

    She told the court that Arnaot called her “Tony Blair’s bitch” and drove her 4×4 Nissan X Trail at a no entry sign she was standing in front of…

    She told Blackfriars crown court, South London: “I couldn’t breathe. I was so scared for my baby.”

    Miss Chambers, who has since given birth to a healthy boy, went on: “I have never felt so much pain. I was convinced I had lost my baby.”

    She added: “I could hear her shouting at me: ‘You are Tony Blair’s bitch, all you white people are the same’.”…

    Miss Chambers said: “As I walked up to the open driver’s window I could hear a female saying, ‘Tony Blair’s bitch, you racist cow’.”

    She said she thought Arnaot was on the phone, until the doctor allegedly repeated the insult and added: “All you white people are the same, you all vote for Tony Blair.”

    Miss Chambers asked: “What are you doing? I’m pregnant. All I have done is stopped to ask for your insurance details.”

    She claimed Arnaot tried to drive off so she dialled the police. Then the car allegedly pinned her to the sign.

    Passerby Wayne Treveail said he saw the Nissan hitting Miss Chambers and heard the racist abuse.

    Ambulanceman Michael Andrew said Miss Chambers had been “calm and polite”. He heard Arnaot shouting followed by screams.

    He was handed Arnaot’s keys when she was parked 30 yards away. He told the court he offered to move her car to a safe position but she called him “an English racist pig”…


    Pregnant woman in ‘racist’ attack

    A heavily pregnant woman was pinned against a post by a 4×4 and racially abused in a road rage incident, a court has heard.

    Sarah Chambers, 25, was allegedly attacked by doctor Mary Arnaot, 50, after a near miss on the A2 Kent Road in Bexleyheath, Kent on August 10 2005.

    Blackfriars Crown Court heard Ms Arnaot denied one count of dangerous driving and five other charges.

    Ms Chambers said she was left in unbearable pain after the attack.

    Ms Arnaot pleaded not guilty to damaging the Ford Fiesta Miss Chambers was in, causing her racially aggravated actual bodily harm, and inflicting ordinary ABH.

    She also pleaded not guilty to two allegations of common assault against Ms Chambers and her boyfriend Steven Boakes, 26.

    The court heard how the incident began at about 2000 BST as Ms Chambers’ partner drove her long the A2 Kent Road.

    Without warning, the doctor’s Nissan 4X4 veered towards them, forcing Ms Chambers to yank the steering wheel to avoid a collision.

    After Ms Arnaot sped away, the couple began following her to ensure there would not be a crash, the court heard.

    When the couple caught up with Ms Arnaot they confronted her.

    But she drove her Nissan into Ms Chambers, who was almost seven months pregnant at the time, and pinned her against a post, jurors were told.

    Ms Chambers, who claimed her “road rage” attacker called her “Tony Blair’s bitch”, said as the pain went from bad to “unbearable” she was left unable to move, barely able to scream and convinced her unborn child would die.

    She told London’s Blackfriars Crown Court: “I couldn’t breathe. I was so scared for my baby. The post was really digging into my stomach.”

    The hearing continues.


    Using your skill and judgement, determine which of these reports was from BBC Views Online and which was from that well known right-wing reactionary (shurely shome mishtake?) newspaper, The Daily Mirror.

    Got it? Yes, the BBC Views Online report is the one that downplays the alleged racism of Dr. Arnaot, who, according her web site, The Ocean Park Private Clinic, was born in Baghdad in 1955, and who, according to this directory of expert witnesses, appears to be doing rather well in this apparently racist country where she has chosen to live. Even the BBC’s headline is ambiguous about whether or not the pregnant woman is the victim or the attacker.

    The trial, at London’s Blackfriars Crown Court, continues.

    N.B. The BBC report is quoted in full. The Daily Mirror Report has been abridged for ease of comparison. ‘Reasons of space’ is not an excuse for the BBC’s omissions.

    The BBC: well ahead of the news.

    According to this report:

    “Global warming could cut the world’s annual economic output by as much as 20%, an influential report by Sir Nicholas Stern is expected to say.”

    Call it debasement of the English language, call it wishfulfillment journalism, but surely the “influence” of a report can only be estimated after the effects of its publication are known? Still, it makes for a nice consistency: a hypothetically gloomy report on an unproven hypothesis is said, hypothetically one supposes, to be influential- all by a hypothetically unbiased news organisation.

    The Telegraph joins in.

    The bandwagon is gathering momentum. Yesterday it emerged that a BBC executive, Ann Davies, has questioned whether the corporation should “help break the constraints of the PC police” after audience research found it was out of step with much of mainstream public opinion. Another BBC boss, Richard Klein, commissioning editor for documentaries, told staff it was “pathetic” for the BBC to pride itself on being “of the people”.

    They’re all spot on. It’s high time the debate moved on from narrow notions of political bias. Far harder for the BBC to gainsay is that it has a liberal cultural bias, one that envelops pretty much all programmes, not just news and current affairs. If you want to find the most solid evidence of partiality, look at the BBC’s entertainment output – its dramas, comedies and arts programmes. This is where its guard is down, where the BBC editorial police are not watching out for “balance” weak points. And it’s also where, arguably, the partiality is far more subversive.

    I wouldn’t know where to start in tackling the political correctness of BBC drama, but I think the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves would go to Spooks, BBC1’s flagship series about impossibly right-on MI5 agents. The series was originally praised (by the BBC) for its accuracy about the real work of the Security Service. So what did it kick off with on the first episode? A pro-life extremist bomber out to cause mayhem. Come on, you must know about them! No? Well, what about episode two, which tackled the equally pressing issue of racist extremists in league with Right-wing politicians plotting mass murder of immigrants? I lost interest in Spooks, but tuned in again a few weeks ago for the start of the fifth series. It was about homegrown al-Qa’eda terrorists taking over the Saudi embassy and murdering innocent people. Except that they weren’t British Muslims at all, but undercover Israeli agents. Once again, the villains are a million miles away from the ones you might expect, and top-heavy with the forces of reaction.

    “‘BBC guilty of ignoring public opinion,’ says senior executive.”

    The Evening Standard reports on the views of BBC commissioning editor for documentaries, Richard Klein. (Hat tip to Jonathan Boyd Hunt. Read his comment here.)

    Klein said: “By and large, people who work at the BBC think the same and it’s not the way the audience thinks. That’s not long term sustainable.”

    “We pride ourselves on being ‘of the people’, and it’s pathetic…..Channel 4 tends to laugh at people, the BBC ignores them.”

    His comments, reported in the corporation’s in-house magazine, come on the back of news earlier this week that a string of BBC executives and journalists have admitted that the corporation is institutionally biased.


    Klein, who made his views known at an “audience festival” organised by the BBC last week to find out what its viewers think, admitted that the BBC’s liberal internal culture did not match that of the wider British public.

    He said: “Most people at the BBC don’t live lives like this, but these are our licence payers. It’s our job to reflect and engage.”


    Research conducted by the BBC showed that many viewers felt “gagged and alone” and also believed mainstream views were being driven underground.

    Another reader reminded me that Nick Cohen had also covered the famous impartiality seminar in an article for the Observer on 7 October, discussed in this post by Laban Tall.

    Open thread – for comments of general Biased BBC interest:

    Please use this thread for off-topic, but preferably BBC related, comments. Please keep comments on other threads to the topic at hand. N.B. this is not an invitation for general off-topic comments – our aim is to maintain order and clarity on the topic-specific threads. This post will remain at or near the top of the blog. Please scroll down to find new topic-specific posts.