The Reading Room

What in the name of God is the BBC thinking?

In a scene reminiscent of the very best of on-the-money media and public sector sitcom W1A, the BBC this week announced it was “set to increase its coverage of religions after a year-long review found that people of all faiths were ‘often absent, poorly presented or satirised,’ ” according to The Guardian among others.

This is a strange move from a public service broadcaster that is supposed to reflect the needs and interests of the great British public. For only two months before the British Social Attitudes survey, as The Guardian again reported, highlighted that “for the first time, more than half the population say they have no religion.” That’s right – the survey found that 53% of all adults had no religious affiliation, up from 48% in 2015.

One can understand the Beeb wanting to put out a more diverse mix of religious content to reflect the range of beliefs practiced in Britain today.  But, in true “PC-gone-mad” fashion (copyright The Daily Mail), rather than dial back the Songs of Praise and put a few other religions in the mix too, with a reduction in the overall output to reflect the diminishing public interest in religion, the corporation is instead going in the opposite direction and vowing to give us more.

Still, over three quarters of British men say they have never or rarely danced, according to a YouGov survey for BBCRadio 5 live, published last month, but it doesn’t stop the Beeb putting ballroom dancing on prime time Saturday night TV. Maybe the nation’s broadcaster should drop the idea of being representative, as that’s clearly a vast curve no single organisation is likely to get out from behind, and instead opt for a more pragmatic shrug of the shoulders, perhaps adopting the mantra: “It takes all sorts.” That’s a suitably vague catchphrase that Ian Fletcher should be able to sell to Tony Hall.

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