High life

What I would do if I were in charge of the BBC

26 September 2020

9:00 AM

26 September 2020

9:00 AM


I’ve been wrestling all week with indecision, the kind that tests one’s soul, and the uncertainty is killing me. It’s like having to choose between Keira and Jennifer, when it’s normal to want both. No, I’m not being greedy — and it’s not even my fault that I’m in this position, but that of my esteemed colleague Douglas Murray, author of The Madness of Crowds and a fellow columnist. Two weeks ago, at his most serious, he proposed that I be put in charge of either the BBC or the Equality and Human Rights Commission. Yippee, hooray!

Douglas was annoyed when certain Tory wets did not defend the appointment of a past Australian prime minister as a UK trade adviser. Instead of telling the left-wing hack who was grilling them about the appointment to drop dead, they folded like an overused accordion. Hence Douglas’s call for Taki. But why did he inject the word ‘or’? I want both — to head the BBC and the EHRC. (Plus Keira and Jennifer to boot.)

The first thing I’d do is fire 90 per cent of all BBC personnel who edit, research or present news, starting with Emily Maitlis, unless she accepts a posting to Grozny or Burkina Faso for the duration. There will be no woke fanatics allowed within a block of the studios and the likes of Frankie Boyle will never again tarnish a BBC screen. Fairness will be paramount, and I will not choose people who do not menstruate over those who do.

But I will ban the Corporation from showing filth, and that includes every single film made over here and in America in the past 40 years. All sci-fi will be verboten — too predictable and boring, and viewed only by morons — as will the use of the F-word on any BBC show. The Best Years of Our Lives, All About Eve, Paths of Glory, Laura, Life with Father, Gone with the Wind, Das Boot, all John Wayne westerns, all Audie Murphy westerns, all MGM musicals, all black and white movies featuring huge art-deco nightclubs, large bands playing 1930s tunes, and men in white tie dancing with beautiful women with mid-Atlantic accents and shimmering dresses will be de rigueur. As will Casablanca, The Maltese Falcon, All Quiet on the Western Front, Rebecca, all Gary Cooper movies, all Barbara Stanwyck films, all Ava Gardner ones, all those starring William Holden and all Burt Lancaster films, with a weekly showing of The Leopard, Visconti’s masterpiece based on the Lampedusa novel. Ditto Fred and Ginger movies to brighten up our spirits when the English weather dampens them. And a dose of the Marx Brothers every Sunday morning to help us get over our hangovers.

A decree banning all that shouting by sports announcers — along with the canned laughter in prerecorded, phoney, smart-aleck shows such as Have I Got News for You — will be rigorously enforced. In fact, an image of the triple-jowled, homely Ian Hislop will hang outside the main BBC building under the banner ‘This was us then’ next to a picture of Rita Hayworth in Gilda under the heading ‘This is us now.’ Yippee! I will seek to find talents that approach those of Noël Coward, and demand that presenters who menstruate copy the demeanour of Valerie Hobson. I will raise the salary of Kirstie Allsopp because she’s a friend, and fire Gary Lineker. In no time the BBC will reclaim its place as the best broadcasting body in the world and banish Sky, ITV, CBS, NBC, ABC, Netflix, HBO and CNN to the rubbish heaps where they belong. Last but not least, the slightest hint of political correctness in chat shows or interviews will mean instant dismissal. The BBC under me will be for freedom of speech. There!

As far as the Equality and Human Rights Commission is concerned, my task will be far simpler. I will abolish it in an instant, but if the busybodies that run our lives resist my ukase, my first order will be that nothing the European Court of Human Rights directs will ever be obeyed. My second act will be to issue a strict directive against any ruling based on the European Convention of Human Rights. As far as I am concerned, EHRC was created so that criminals fighting deportation can exploit it, enriching unscrupulous lawyers in the process. Oh yes, I almost forgot, the most important of all: hate crimes. I will banish the use of the word ‘hate’ because it is nothing but a redundancy of expression. If, for example, a white man attacks, beats up and robs a black man, it may be viewed as a hate crime. But if a black man attacks, beats up and robs a white man it is more likely to be seen as simply a crime. No longer. Both will be judged on their merits, or demerits, as the case may be. This will ensure that I will go down in history as Taki the Wise — or Taki the Fair.

Otherwise, everything’s hunky-dory. I read about Sasha Swire’s diaries and they sound like revenge porn. I knew her 40-odd years ago, when she was stepping out with Oliver Gilmour. I found her unpleasant, unfriendly and rather plain-looking. She had a beautiful roommate named Sophia Stapleton Cotton, which was the best thing about her. Anyway, diaries are not to be believed. Diarists assume they are far more moral than anyone else — never hypocritical and always truthful. Most of them are score settlers and have enormous axes to grind. They are self-aggrandising while diminishing others. I pass.

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