BBC2 this evening showed the first of a seven part series, British Film Forever

, with tonight’s episode, Guns, Gangsters, and Getaways: The Story of the British Crime Thriller, described in Radio Times as follows:

There are some tremendous thrillers here – Brighton Rock, Mona Lisa, Get Carter – but I hope you’ve seen them all, because if you haven’t, there’s little point in hiring the DVDs. Crucial plot details and endings are all given away. Even actual closing scenes (Get Carter) are fully aired, which will probably come as a disappointment to anyone whose taste for some British cinema classics is tweaked by otherwise great clips. Spoiled surprises aside, this is a handy compilation (part of BBC2’s Summer of British Film season), with some good contributors, not the usual bunch of who-on-earth-is-that? talking heads. (emphasis added)

Well, that’s not quite true. There were some interesting ‘talking heads’, but a lot of the usual vacuous ‘writer and broadcaster’ (i.e. haven’t got a real job) types so beloved of the BBC too. One of them was one Richard Bacon, well known for being fired from children’s programme Blue Peter for cocaine abuse.

Speaking about the well known London gangster film, The Long Good Friday, Bacon opined that the film was, among other things, a reflection of Thatcherism. Whilst a hired z-list BBC lackey might well malign Thatcher and Thatcherism in this way, it would be a lot more credible if the lackey in question at least had his facts right (even if his opinions based on the facts are hogwash).

Margaret Thatcher was elected in May 1979. The Long Good Friday was released in November 1980. Anyone who knows how long it takes to make and produce a film can see that The Long Good Friday can therefore not be a reflection of Thatcherism. Moreover, Richard Bacon was born in November 1975, so he was three years old when Thatcher came to power, four years old when the film was released and fifteen years old when Thatcher was deposed.

Clearly he doesn’t and can’t know what he’s talking about, yet the BBC sees fit to spend our tellytax paying this z-list celeb to peddle their usual revisionist tripe at us. I’ve often wondered how these talking heads style programmes are put together – do they watch the films in question and then come up with their own impressions (as is implied), or are their ‘impressions’ scripted in advance, with the talking heads merely delivering lines? I’ve always suspected the latter. Now I’m sure. Yet more fakery. The BBC, it’s what we do!

P.S. Have you noticed recently that, not content with stuffing the gaps between programmes with multiple lengthy trails to promote selected BBC programmes (i.e. advertising for the BBC, paid for by viewers, designed to benefit the BBC), they are now frequently talking across programme end-credits and displaying yet more BBC adverts while the credits roll minimised to one corner or side? I woudn’t mind the BBC doing so much advertising if it was paid advertising rather than just more expensive BBC propaganda – paid advertising would be much better value for tellytaxpayers and would be a lot less tedious and repetitive than the BBC’s own propaganda.

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5 Responses to BBC2 this evening showed the first of a seven part series, British Film Forever

  1. jg says:

    Not just talking over credits either. They now use a scrolling banner BEFORE a program has finished to advertise the next one. They did this the other night on top gear. A banner started scrolling just as Clarkson was delivering his final sentence, summing up his experiences. It breaks the concentration, and destroys any build up that was occurring in the program.

    The BBC: advertising, its what we do.


  2. Fran says:

    Not really a beef about the BBC (unless some film buff knows different) but what a depressing and sordid set of films they reviewed. True, I only moved permanently to the mainland after 1974, but I don’t remember any of the sheer amoral nastiness of the Britain they showed.

    Britain was also vibrant and exciting, even during the difficult years of the early and mid ’70s, not just the dreary hole shown on those films.


  3. Chuffer says:

    I can’t really go along with your criticism of Bacon, Andrew – no matter what he puts up his nose. Yes, Long Good Friday would have been in production before Mrs. Thatcher came to power, but the values and events portrayed in it – massive redevelopment of run-down London, for instance – continued into the years of Mrs T., and became an integral part of the new socioeconomic values known as Thatcherism.

    And does one have to have been born (or more than a tiny) during an era to comment on that era? That would cut down the number of historians, that’s for sure.


  4. Andrew says:

    Perhaps Chuffer, but in response to your points:

    1) Whatever the relevance of the film to later developments in the 1980’s (a debatable point), it cannot be a reflection of events that happened later!

    2) The point about historians occured to me too – but of course Bacon is not a noted historian, if indeed he is any kind of historian. In fact, he is mostly noted for only one thing – getting fired from Blue Peter for cocaine abuse.

    My criticism in the main is targeted at the BBC for their use of these paid ‘writer and broadcaster’ type talking-heads to pad out shows like this with inane and banal comments – of which Bacon is just one obvious example. What a waste of broadcasting space and tellytaxpayers cash.


  5. Umbongo says:

    The impression given by the commentary was that the post-war thrillers reflected accurately post-war Britain: not just the rundown nature of the country but the violence, exploitation of the weak and rampant criminality. For anyone who lived through that period the fascination of the thrillers was particularly and specifically that for most of us Britain was not like that. Yes Britain was rundown, yes class mattered, but we felt safe and we had faith in our institutions (including the police and, believe it or not, the BBC). BTW and contrary to the impression given last night, despite the hanging of Ruth Ellis in real life (and Diana Dors in fiction) there was no widespread demand for the abolition of the death penalty.

    I would add that most of the massive redevelopment of the country had happened in the 50s and 60s. Macmillan was responsible for the building of 300,000 houses annually in the 50s. However, little credit is due to the governments (of both parties) and the developers for the rubbish that was erected, for the historic town centres (many undamaged during the war) vandalised by local councils and for the indigenous communities that were destroyed in the wholesale “decanting” of populations to the “new towns”.