SPEAKING PERSONALLY: Maggie Millar

Maggie Millar

Maggie Millar

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THE BBC announced last week that Tony Hall has replaced ‘Wentwistle’ as the organisation’s new Director General.

But I’m sure I, along with many others, think the move is unlikely to eliminate the bitter aftertaste of the Savilegate crisis, which has rocked that so-called venerable institution to its foundations.

It beggars belief that a serial predator such as Savile could have escaped the notice of his colleagues and bosses for so long, especially since many of his offences were carried out under the noses of production staff.

And to think he was esteemed for so long as one of the BBC’s flagship entertainers (and top children’s presenter, no less) makes me feel sick to the core.

Fancy a free Rolls Royce, anyone?

We might never know for certain if BBC bosses ‘ higher up’ actively knew and covered for Savile’s behaviour for decades.

But the way this bloated dinosaur of an organisation handled the revelations sparked by ITV finally proves to me that, we, the licence fee-paying public, are being treated with utter contempt.

Let’s look at the facts.

The BBC is not, however much it claims otherwise, to be the most impartial purveyor of current affairs.

Successive governments in power have hardly been subjected to ruthless analysis by BBC journalists.

And, when an odd exception such as Andrew Gilligan sticks his neck on the line with claims that the Iraq War was founded on a “sexed-up” WMD document – he gets well and truly beheaded for it.

And this is the problem, because without such lofty moral standing, the BBC is no better or worse than any other news and entertainment channel.

And, put simply, it can’t justify drawing in just under £150 per year from each household.

Or, for that matter, handing over a £450,000 cheery-bye payment to former Director General George Enwistle ( along with a year’s free private healthcare cover) when he resigned after just 54 days in the post.

Nor can the BBC justify its latest ridiculous revelation that 574 senior managers within the organisation get free BUPA healthcare at a cost of £2 million a year to licence-fee payers.

Or that former chief operating officer Caroline Thompson was given a £670,000 “disappointment pay-off” when she was beaten to the top dog post by Entwistle. C’mon!

The list of excess just goes on and on.

To be fair, I reckon BBC radio is particularly good and it does produce quality entertainment programmes on the telly (as does ITV, Sky and HBO, etc., etc.)

But I don’t have to spell that out to the bosses of the BBC.

After all, the payment to departing Wentwistle (which was twice what he was entitled to) was signed off by Lord Patten’s deputy as she watched ‘Strictly Come Dancing’.

In days gone by, I remember the BBC used to put the fear of God into licence fee dodgers with its advert featuring a van prowling residential streets at night.

I still don’t know if that was just a ruse to scare people into submission, or whether those vans indeed have the technology to detect TV signals.

But I’m glad to say that ominous level of scrutiny has now been redirected by the public towards the BBC and, who knows, one day it might mean we pay less for it.

We’re watching you.

Maggie Millar writes in the East Fife Mail.