I must have written before about Edward, a stalwart for many years of a Sunday lunchtime pint gathering at the old local, familiar in eternal heavy green cord trousers and with no firm views on anything but football. He wasn't really a friend of any of us, but was always there, as much a part of Sunday lunchtime as the bar fitments. We'd always known Edward worked for the BBC but after an initial enquiry that revealed his job didn't bring him into contact with anyone famous, everyone lost interest in what he did. Right up to the time he was made redundant.
It was one of the wives, doing the toy recycling thing that wives do, that let us know. Edward hadn't mentioned it. Once we knew, the full male support thing swung into action. Right. What was his actual job? And that was the problem. I can't recall the precise title, but it was something unknown to the rest of the world outside the BBC - say 'Deputy Head of Strategic Iteration'. It was a function unknown to other broadcasters, the media, electronics, broadcast engineering, or any industry known to man. Chiefly, it involved attending meetings at which he was not expected to contribute anything, but just ensure that his department was represented. It must have been a bit like his attendance at our Sunday lunchtime sessions; perhaps he passed a few comments as he gathered his papers on the state of the Premier League. Well, we utterly failed to assist him in his job search and rumour has it they left for the country where he intended to train as a blacksmith.
Certainly the evidence released yesterday supports the view that the BBC is stuffed full of Edwards. ‘I don’t know what they do. I mean, they talk to each other, I suppose, as all these bloody people do.’ said Paxman, referring to the 'Editorial Policy Department'. He continued 'There is a raft of appointments now that have been made of people who are clearly not the most creative. They seemed to spend an awful lot of time having meetings with one another...They do a lot of talking to each other.’
And this, it seems, is how much of the £3.6bn a year TV tax is spent - on an organisation 'more bloated with managers than China' in Fatty Pang's words. And this is the heart of the BBC's problem - it is utterly inwardly focused, a bureaucratic behemoth existing entirely for its own benefit, big enough to be able to ignore popular opinion. In other words, its problems are digital - and the digit in question is the middle finger raised to the British public.