Anthony Clavane: Knocking the BBC was all the rage last year and there’s no reason to suppose 2019 is going to be any different

Jools Holland's Hootenanny came in for criticism after it emerged the BBC's New Year's Eve show wasn't 'live.'
Jools Holland's Hootenanny came in for criticism after it emerged the BBC's New Year's Eve show wasn't 'live.'
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Those spoilsports at the BBC really know how to ruin a New Year’s celebration. First they dupe you into thinking Jools Holland’s Hootenanny is going out live. Then they tamper with Doctor Who by changing the traditional date (it should have been on Christmas Day, you elitist fools).

And, finally, they leave viewers “fuming” by regenerating the Time Lord into a mad Remoaner.

Beeb-bashing was all the rage last year and this triple whammy of betrayals gives the Great British Public no reason to suppose that 2019 is going to be any different.

In 2018 there was the gender pay row, repeated attacks on presenters’ political stances and the defections of broadcasters such as Chris Evans, Eddie Mair and Moira Stuart. Both lefty liberals and right-wingers lambasted Auntie’s supposed bias; the former often foamed at the mouth at the thought of the “British Brexit Corporation” and the latter persistently denounced the, er, pro-EU propaganda machine as yet another Enemy Of The People.

The clock hitting midnight on New Year’s Eve was the signal for a new round of Beeb-bashing to begin. As the Pipes and Drums of the 1st Battalion Scots Guards played Auld Lang Syne, “fuming” viewers were, apparently, already complaining that the boogie-woogie man’s customary countdown had not taken place in real time. The Daily Mirror, The Daily Mail and The Daily Express all ran stories about the seething, raging and general gnashing of teeth taking place on Twitter, the official Points Of View message board and the lawn outside parliament where that chap who drapes himself in a Union flag – and has perfected the art of interrupting news broadcasts – appears to live.

So, the show had been pre-recorded. OMG. I’m gobsmacked. Whatever next? Perhaps it will be revealed that Sooty is a glove puppet. Or that the Pope is a Catholic. Or that the popular beat combos on Top Of The Pops almost always mimed their songs.

Or that £350m of Brexit money won’t really be going to the NHS as the poster on the bus promised.

Now, while it is true that when the Beeb’s founder Lord Reith waxed lyrical about offering people something “better than they thought they wanted” he probably did not have in mind a ramshackle, boogie-woogie, New Year’s Eve celebrity love-in that had been recorded a fortnight before it went out. But this is hardly a scandal, people.

The pre-recording of Holland’s star-studded bash is one of TV’s worst-kept secrets. This time around, the public service broadcaster actually came clean and admitted that Jools’s mates would be “impossible to deliver on December 31”. Most viewers know the countdown is not in real time. Jools and his fellow celebs know we know it’s not in real time. We know they know we know…

Time to move on. To “the first day of the year 2019” in fact. “Across the land and sky of Britain,” concluded the best Doctor Who episode of the new series, “an army of unlikely friends came together to face an impossible opponent – and prevailed.”

This was another cue for a lot of foaming, seething and banging on about elitist conspiracies. The Beeb-bashers declared themselves to be shocked by show-runner Chris Chibnall’s writing. It wasn’t the return of the Daleks that shocked them. Nor the evil monsters’ breaking of the internet, when they managed 
to shut down the nation’s wifi 
on New Year’s Day.

No, the anti-BBC mob were traumatised by a supposed jibe at Brexit when the Doctor called the cross-border Unified Intelligence Taskforce to help save the country from extermination. Our Jodie was informed that this would not be possible because operations were on hold “following financial disputes and subsequent funding withdrawal by the UK’s major international partners”.

As a BBC-loving Remainer who accepts the referendum result, I found the whole series inspiring. Especially the Doctor’s reply to the Dalek’s “humanity will surrender” declaration. “They really won’t,” she insisted. “Trust me, I’ve seen them in action. They’ve seen off so many things. Including the worst of their own people. They are really stubborn. Haven’t you worked that out yet?”