Great British Brain Eaters

It’s difficult to get overly enthused about proposals for a Scottish Six, an hour long Scottish news programme to replace the BBC Six O Clock London News With The Occasional Nod To The Provinces and the sub-tabloid Reporting Scotlandshire, a news show which makes the Sunday Post seem like Woodward and Bernstein. Asking the BBC to report on Scotland fairly and in an unbiased manner is like expecting a zombie on the latest BBC show Great British Brain Eaters to get enthused about a vegetarian diet.

The BBC is by definition the British broadcaster, it exists to promote and foster Britishness, so by its very nature it’s going to be incapable of giving equitable cover to all sides in a debate in a country where the great political divide is about whether to be British or not. Blue Tories and the Red Tories of Labour spent the last few decades privatising and selling off all the state owned insitutions which fostered a sense of Britishness, British Rail, British Steel, British Coal, British Gas are all no more. The British state has become so attenuated that the Westminster parliament, the royals, the armed forces and the BBC are the only remaining British institutions.

And no one, not even Nicholas Witchell, could seriously argue that Willnkate’s airbrushed anodyne affectations are going to be the glue that keeps the disparate parts of the United Kingdom together in the face of Tory onslaughts on what’s left of our public services. The Clean For the Queen campaign was not received with any enthusiasm in Scotlad despite the best attempts of the British establishment to get us excited about cleaning public spaces because that same establishment has taken an axe to public cleansing services so that they can reward themselves even more. And moreover to do it on behalf of an obscenely rich woman who won’t even pay her own palace cleaners a decent wage. When the dug does a crap in the street I always pick it up and put it in the bin, clean for the Queen makes me want to pick it up and post it to Buckingham Palace.

That just leaves the BBC and the armed forces as the last remaining agencies to keep us all British. The army isn’t going to do it, not as it becomes ever more involved in unpopular wars at the behest of even more unpopular politicians. It’s no coincidence that as Britishness has declined elsewhere that we’ve seen a growth in the public cult of glorification of the military and the Corporation has become desperate to stick a Union fleg on pursuits as diverse and trivial as cake baking, ballroom dancing and sewing. An institution which is one of the last remaining bastions of Britishness isn’t about to give a fair airing to people who question the entire concept. People who want an independent Scotland don’t fit into the narrative of the Great British sponge cake.

A proposal for a dedicated hour long Scottish news programme has been around for the best part of 20 years. It’s a proposal which is ridiculously, embarrassingly, self-effacingly meek and mild. Asking for a Scottish Six reduces Scottish news coverage to begging for spare change on the pavement outside Broadcasting House in London. It’s a small, unambitious request belonging to the dark days of the cringe. A wee squeak begging to be noticed by those who make no bone about considering us unworthy. Please Sir, can we have another 30 minutes of news where we are?

Yet 20 years after Scotland got a Parliament with law making and tax raising powers the country still doesn’t have a national news programme capable of informing the Scottish populace of what their own government is doing. People in Scotland still hear more about the English NHS and the English education system than they do about their own. We still have politicians like Ken Macintosh, who used to work in TV, arguing that Scotland doesn’t need news and home-grown journalism. The fact that after almost 20 years of Scottish self-government Scotland’s news is tacked on as an addendum to the news from London is testament to the Ebeneezer Scrooge like grasp of BBC’s London management on power, and the airing given to embarrassments like Ken who are ashamed of their own country and frightened by its potential.

A Scottish Six would be welcome, like a stale crumb is welcome to a starving man. But it already looks like BBC’s London managers are setting it up to fail. Under-invested, produced in a rush by a demoralised staff without support or resources, the BBC’s London bosses hope to produce a Scottish Six that’s going to be the current affairs equivalent of an Audience with John Barrowman. Then when the viewing public reject it they can claim there is no demand in Scotland for Scottish produced broadcasting.

If we had real ambition, if Scotland’s broadcasters dared to believe that we could be as good as any other European nation, we would not be asking meekly for a glorified Reporting Scotland. We’d be demanding what any self-respecting self-governing European nation of our size takes for granted. We’d be demanding a Scottish national broadcaster with two channels in English, one channel in Scots, one channel in Gaelic, and a 24 hour dedicated Scottish news channel. That’s what Scotland deserves, that’s what other European countries our size take for granted. It’s only with a proper Scottish broadcasting service that Scotland can invest in and develop Scottish journalistic and reporting talent. It’s the only way that we can have a media that actually represents Scotland in all its thrawn and disputatious glory.

Anything less leaves us short changed. Proposals for a Scottish Six distract us from what we ought to be campaiging for, for a proper Scottish public broadcasting service. Let’s reach for the televisual stars, not scrabble in the gutter for the BBC’s dregs. We need a Scottish public broadcasting service, not a sixty minute opt out giving the news where London isn’t when the rest of the time the Great British Brain Eaters of the BBC’s London management still set the televisual agenda and still call the financial shots.

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35 comments on “Great British Brain Eaters

  1. Clive Scott says:

    Ken Macintosh debating the Scottish Six with Lesley Riddoch was so embarrassing for our country. The man is such a cowardly craven toady to Westminster. Maybe his performance was in the hope of getting his old job back at the BBC after he deservedly fails to get re-elected in May. SNP x 2.

  2. Dan Huil says:

    The bbc is incapable of unbiased reporting on Scottish issues. Any “Scottish Six” will be still be infused with the stench of London-centric propaganda. Britnat Scots working at Pacific Quay will continue to suck up to their London bosses. They just can’t help themselves.

  3. […] Great British Brain Eaters […]

  4. fairliered says:

    I was thinking that the Scottish Government should be discussing with STV whether they should produce a Scottish Six – and announce it just when the British BC have been obliged to spend some money figuring out how they could do it whilst continuing to try to convince Scotland that we have, or ought to have, a Labour government where we are.
    Then I thought, most Scots will continue to ignore the old media when obtaining their news, and the rest don’t see themselves as Scots, merely British, so aren’t interested in the success of the country they live in, because they imagine they live in a country called Britain. The BBC will continue to pander to their views, whether there is a Scottish Six or the status quo – UKIP on Question Time every week.

    • WRH2 says:

      The main problem with STV is that it doesn’t cover all of Scotland. The whole of the south of Scotland is even less well served by ITV from Gateshead or somewhere that barely knows where the Borders or Dumfries and Galloway are. Look at the map and you’ll see that area is where the Tories (either blue or red) are clinging on desperately by their finger nails. At least in 2015 we left them with only one MP, unfortunately that was the out of his depth Fluffy. I’d like to add a last important point. I am in no way responsible for that idiot being elected since I live in Roxburgh, Berwickshire and Selkirk constituency where we very sensibly elected Calum Kerr SNP MP.

  5. […] Source: Great British Brain Eaters […]

  6. Gavin.C.Barrie says:

    “I’m not paying to be lied to” was my response, some years back, to the BBC door callers on why I had dropped off as a customer. Some correspondence with them, then OK they say, we accept your position, you won’t hear from us again. Lo, another door caller, “you’ll soon be getting a free license anyway. And I don’t want it”. My response.

    Call it pride, or self esteem, or simply awareness that life’s personal clock is ticking.

    BBC, you are a waste of time.

    • Jan Cowan says:

      With you 100%, Gavin.

    • What does Brian Taylor really think when he rounds off FMQ each week by ‘handing us over’ to that greatest of Scottish Anglified Gentlemen (I cry them ‘SAGs’), Andrew Neill, in his Westminster Bubble to join yet another debate on matters EVEL ?
      Has he no opinion on this insult to Scottish viewers? A half hour of FMQ with no follow up analysis? Wouldn’t he like to chair a discussion on that day’s parry and thrust at Holyrood?
      Does anybody actually watch Reporting Scotland these days, or the risible Sunday Politics Scotland fronted by ‘hang on a minute, just to be clear’ Brewer, New Labour’s Communications Director?
      Sunday Politics last week-end was a joke. Findlay Rennie and that Union bloke whose name we can’t seem to recall, and all that Bad SNP nonsense, which Brewer as usual allowed to pour forth uninterrupted.
      How Professor Devine got sucked into appearing on this weekly Labour Party Political broadcast baffles me.
      Last time I watch it. And as for Scotland 2016? Hello, is there anyone out there? Hello. hello?
      I won’t be watching an hour of Bird Magnusson Campbell Taylor Fraser and Kerr, or Cosgrove and his Northern Soul….I suspect that few but the Dog Whistle Faithful tune in now. BBC Radio Scotland is beyond comment. A middle class chunterfest for bored Broomhill housewives.
      ‘The News where you are (in Easterhouse, Castlemilk, Drumchapel) is not news where we are’. (apologies to the author.)
      I don’t really care about the fate of BBC anyhoo.

  7. Saor Alba says:

    I agree Gavin, only I think that the BBC is a TOTAL WASTE of time. The title of Paul’s post is so apt – ‘The Great British Brain Eaters’ or the GBBE. Maybe they should be the BBE rather than the BBC. In fact, it would be better if they did not exist, along with the abhorrent Great Britain, its Establishment and its institutions.

    I gave up my licence more than a year ago and we have not regretted it on iota as a family.
    We do not watch any live TV at all and it has made our lives much more interesting. Now we do not waste precious hours listening to lies and utter rubbish designed to mince people’s minds and distract them from reality. The BBC are simply the main mouthpiece of a corrupt and contemptible British Establishment, along with the vast majority of MSM publications.

    Britain is regarded with disgust over much of the Planet we inhabit and it is so easy to see why.

  8. Saor Alba says:

    “one iota’ (2nd para)

  9. Jings! Scots might get a weather forecast which doesn’t scream,

    “Honey, I shrunk the map”! *

    *just the top bit

  10. macart763M says:

    SBC, pretty much end of. We have the people, the will and the talent. What we do not have is our own national broadcaster or government competence over same.

    Anything else is a sub standard sticking plaster, an underfunded sop. As for Mr Macintosh? Public record, a picture paints a thousand words and in his case the message is unambiguous. Scotland is apparently incapable.

    The measure of Labour’s ambition for Scotland writ large.

  11. David Agnew says:

    If you want to see how yoon see themselves and see Scotland, simply bring up the idea of a “Scottish six”. A mere half hour of extra news with a Scottish outlook. Queue jokes about cats being stuck up trees in auchtermuchty & the Queen opening the big clootie dumpling race. They see themselves and us as parochial, insular and silly. Nothing of import can possibly happen here. There is no Scottish lens through which to view events occurring abroad. What a fantastically idiotic notion. And there it is. Laid out in front of you. These people are terminally embarrassed at being Scottish, they need to pretend that Britishness is really a dual nationality so they can counter the sheer cringe inducing horror that is their Scottish half. We’ve all met them. We’ve all read their posts. The “Proud Scots but” brigade. Their pride in Scottishness it seems doesn’t stretch far really. Thank Christ they have Britain to wipe their arses for them. All this – for a stinking half hour section of news – probably still ran by the BBC, so lets be honest it will probably be pish anyways. So I find myself ambivalent about the whole thing. I would not put it past the BBC to fuck it up on purpose. But then I remember that I truly don’t give a shit. I stopped paying my license and stopped listening. I left the room ages ago. It helps that I don’t really care about programmes about baking cakes or celebrities making complete arseholes of themselves while trying to dance in tight pants.

    The only way we can get a decent media is when we make it ourselves.

    Its no use asking these feckers for some table scraps or some more low hanging fruit from the devolution tree. We need to start being cynical bastards with a well honed mercenary sensibility when it comes to the media we want. If the UK and Scottish MSM want to talk complete and total pish in a herculean effort to distract us from Scottish labour shitting in its trousers again…there is no law that says we have to sit there and take it, let alone pay for it.

    So I am going to be controversial here. Fuck the Scottish six. No more of waiting to be spoon fed whatever shit they deem fit to serve us. Its like arguing about the cover of the cereal box when we already know the contents are old soggy bran flakes. There is a whole world of media out there to get at with the stroke of a keyboard. So many magazines and foreign papers to read. So many specialist sites dealing with the issues of the day. Take the time to mine for some of that treasure and detox your brain.

  12. lanark says:

    We on the pro independence side don’t see ourselves as better than anybody else, we just see ourselves as good as anybody else.

    The unionists think we are hopeless, a quarter of a million Icelanders can govern themselves but we can’t. But then they get all superior and start saying that if it isn’t British it’s crap. Icelandic telly is shit and by extension Iceland is shit.

    So it’s British = best and Foreign = shit and Scottish = less than shit. And they wonder why we don’t vote for them. What a screwed up bunch they are.

    • Bugger (the Panda) says:

      The English want inferiors. The Frenchman constantly raises his eyes above him with anxiety. The Englishman lowers his beneath him with satisfaction.

      Alexis de Tocqueville (1835)

      Not a lot has changed.

  13. Tinto Chiel says:

    “Honey, I shrunk the map”! Bibbit: most amusing.

    @David Agnew, Lanark and Macart: amen to all that.

    My fear is a whole hour of Union Jackie Bird and the usual patronising drivel, while Iceland can produce Trapped. Ken Macintosh, get the picure?

    Two other things that small island can do: support the Yes campaign and jail corrupt bankers.

    Instead, we’re trapped between Wee Willie Rennie and Jackie Baillie, the Convergence of the Dim.

    Beam me up, Scottie.

    • Janet says:

      Whereas on the banking crisis, the Yookay didn’t jail anyone but it did manage to demonise one man and strip him of his knighthood.

      Yookay and Iceland: almost the same.

  14. Only if there’s a wholesale revamp of Pacific Quay and its employees, will there be any chance of the Scottish 6 working the way we want it to. Input from London as suggested by err London, is another insult. BBC Scotland need new journalists, fresh and open to reporting all our news. And a new anchor. After 27 years giving the news where we are, time for Jackie Bird to seek another opportunity, perhaps filing in the basement.

  15. Frank says:

    I no longer pay for their shit. Feeling much better.

  16. Albamac says:

    I haven’t paid a penny to the BBC for years and I’m watching more and better television than I ever did. Freedom of choice is a wondrous thing!

    Here are a couple of ‘comments’ I posted on ‘Blether with Brian’ before the BBC decided to deny Scots freedom of speech.

    Grand palace o Pacific Quay
    Headquarters o the BBC
    a hoose o gless that’s vision-free
    an’ fou o phoneys

    a library o Union lees
    a laundry fur New Labour sleaze
    a purloined pot o license fees
    fur creeps ‘n’ cronies

    nae guardian o democracy
    can caird oor ‘freend’ fae banks o Dee
    when he deesides tae turn an flee
    draggin’ his cojones

    real news sits silent in the lee
    o gang hut built by you an’ me
    while trivia taylors reverie
    wi’ tales o’ pups an’ ponies.

    and this

    Is it a plot, an aberration,
    diversion fae the fate o’ nation,
    tae while away the hoors in verse
    whilst clingin’ tae the Union’s erse?
    Change the subject, come ower witty,
    patronise them jist a bitty,
    gie them naewhere else tae go,
    hem them in, absorb the blow!
    A sheltered nook, for blethers couthy.
    Let country burn an’ play yer moothy!

    Strange thing is that they published these not long before the pulled up the drawbridge. Forget the Scottish Six, let’s give them the deep six!

    deep six:
    A nautical expression indicating a water depth of 6 fathoms (36 feet, 10.97 metres) as measured by a sounding line; “deep six” acquired its idiomatic definition because something thrown overboard at or greater than this depth would be difficult, if not impossible, to recover.

  17. gn2 says:

    Gaelic channel?
    Why not a Polish channel, there’s probably a bigger audience.

    Anyway what we really need is the return of the OHBC.

  18. bjsalba says:

    Haven’t had a TV in my home for about 25 years. From what I occasionally see some in friends’ homes, in a shop or on-line, my money has been far better kept in my purse.

    Only if there was a wholesale clear-out of current staff and people of integrity brought in would I think it worthwhile.

  19. Iain says:

    In Ireland the TV channels are RTE1, RTE2, TV3, 3e, TG4, UTV Ireland, Setanta Ireland, Setanta Sports 1, RTE News, Oireachtas TV, RTEjr, TRTE, Cula4. There is also Irish TV for people overseas.
    There are news broadcasts on RTE1, RTE2, TV3, 3e, TG4 and UTV Ireland in addition to RTE News Now.
    RTE1, TV3 and TG4 also produce their soap operas in addition to other drama.

    Mind you, Scotland wouldn’t manage because we’re Better Together and rely on UKOK for impartiality.

  20. Astragael says:

    This is how the BBC views Scotland. On its news website today, Monday 29 February, its news priorities are as follows:


    1 Oscars 2016: di Caprio finally wins
    2 Thousands of NHS posts lie vacant (supposedly about the UK, but Scotland not included)
    3 900,000 retail jobs could go by 2025 (no breakdown of distribution across UK)
    4 Row over EU ‘uncertainty’ claim
    5 Europe can’t allow Greek chaos – Merkel
    6 Morrisons to sell food through Amazon
    7 Raspberry Pi 3 adds wi-fi
    8 Secondary school places ‘undeliverable’ (refers to England only)
    9 UN to expand Syria aid as truce holds
    10 US student ‘stole propaganda’ in N. Korea
    11 Police keep dog locked up for two years (Devon)
    12 Tense wait for Slovenian ‘dragons’
    13 Watch/Listen (6 items)
    14 The Papers (no Scottish titles/variants)
    15 Also in the News 10 items, none Scottish)
    16 The Reporters (7 items, none Scottish)
    17 Features (6 items, none Scottish)
    18 Explainers (14 items of which 3 headlined; none Scottish)
    19 More from the UK
    20 England: 26 items + sport
    21 Northern Ireland: 35 items + sport
    22 Scotland: 26 items + sport + Scottish papers – Herald, Scottish Sun, Daily Record, The National, P & J
    23 Wales: 32 items + sport

    “Scotland” is thus the BBC’s 22nd most important general news category.

  21. arthur thomson says:

    I am really of two minds on this one.

    Undoubtedly any new programme offered will be deliberately designed to undermine Scotland. It is inconceivable that there would be a genuine effort to do anything that would promote democracy. At the same time the displeasure of unionists that somehow those who support independence had in a minute way forced London’s hand would be useful in undermining their confidence. A straw and not the final one but we just have to keep stacking them up.

    If there is no new programme then Scots will continue to see the reality of Scotland’s place in the union. In the past I was infuriated by the lack of respect shown to Scotland but now I see each insult as being grist to the mill of increasing support for independence.

    I have little doubt that the unionists and their London owners are also of two minds on this one. Ultimately I reckon it’s heads we win, tails they lose.

    • ‘deliberately designed to undermine Scotland’ applies to the BBC’s Scottish output at the moment, Arthur.
      Our FM gave a rousing speech at the anti Nuclear rally in London this weekend. What did Sunday politics show? Corbyn’s speech at the same rally…as a baseball bat with which to hit the loony left Neil Findlay over the head, while New Labour Red Tory agenda adhered to by ‘Hang on a minute, just to be clear’ Brewer.
      The Scottish GMB Union ‘leader’ got stuck into SNP Bad while Brewer sat back in silence…Nicola’s threatening jobs dontcha know. Then Wullie Rennie for five minutes and his 1p tax and another dose of SNP Bad allowed without interruption by JTBC Brewer……then a brief mention of the Great Liar, then onto Tam Devine, ‘just to be clear’ that a Brexit vote would not precipitate Ref II…What a pointless little Unionist propagandamme.
      They belittle Scotland and our Holyrood Administration diurnally, Arthur. It is the Establishment Broadcaster, dog whistle news for the Scottish Colonials Up Here.

  22. Tinto Chiel says:

    While trapped in my bedroom wallpaper-stripping with PravdaSound4 on, I think I heard there is going to be a programme next Monday with Kirsty Wark on the Union of 1707. No doubt this will an effusion of Yoonery, despite the presence of Tom Devine, with all the usual subjects telling us how orgasmic it’s been for us all since we got our English life belt.

    The only sane choice seems to be a tin-foil hat or Radio 3, don’t you think?

    Jack C: you have been warned!

  23. Tinto Chiel says:

    Reception not too good here, JC.


    Perhaps they’ll wheel out Peerie Mun’ell again to tell us Scotland was extinguished in 1707.

    Think I’ll give it a miss……..

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