I just need to have a moan really but I hope you’ll find some of this interesting.
Two years ago I reached 75. The government then allowed me, as an old codger, to watch BBC TV programmes on a free licence.
Not bad really, as I’d bought a licence every year since I was 22 years of age.
That got me interested as I, with many others, pay to allow the BBC to make programmes, and they do an excellent job. I moan about daytime TV, as the same old programmes show up. I dsilike most antique series, they have made inadequate presenters very comfortable and the concept worries me. If we can find pleasure seeing antiques, most no more than 100 years old, why can’t we publicise today’s crafts folk? An antique dealer does very little for their money, but creators should be be applauded.
Years ago I helped a friend organise antique auctions, mostly at Hampstead Town Hall. I recall one dealer selling an item for several hundred pounds, and then crowing that he’d only paid the owner £5, even though he’d known the true value of the item. I saw that happen many times, and ended up with a dislike of such people and their methods.
Anyway, our gloriously incompetent government decided that the ‘free BBC TV Licence for the over-75’ should be handed back to the BBC. That august bunch decided to scrap my ‘free licence’ that I’d only enjoyed for a year.
I like to think of myself as a man of principle. So I shouted loudly that I’d rather go to prison. Later I found that ‘they’ had changed the law from a criminal offence (meaning prison was possible) to a civil tort (meaning that the bailiffs could call and seize goods.
That was a worry. In my 74th year I’d treated myself to a new tele. That one item was like a beacon to a bailiff.
Nevertheless I decided to fight on. Encouraged by news that many thousands of us old folk were playing the same game. Outrage could lose an election – it was possible.
Now what. I’m sort of law-abiding, so avoided watching the BBC. That saw me flicking through Freeview,. said to offer 200 channels. At the start I realised they all carried adverts. These were all showing at the same time. Very frustrating.
I looked closer. There was a string of channels selling jewellery, very enthusiatically., or women’s clothing. Not riveting for an old guy, like me.
Occasionally I came across a couple of blokes doing up cars. The mechanic seemed clever and the buyer/salesman was amiable. They weren’t interested in family saloons, their cars had prestige, meaning they all went much faster than the legal speed limit.
Then came Judge Judy. This was the ultimate in ‘reality TV’. She was fun, and I could, at times, even sit through the adverts to see the result of a case. After a while I’d start flicking during the adverts, even failing to go back to Judy if I found something slightly more interesting.
I yearned to be able to go back to the BBC. Then I realised that many of the more interesting programmes had been made, and screened, by the BBC. Other companies paid the BBC for this content. That really upset me. They sold stuff that they had been abe to make with my money but I had never seen a penny over the last 50-plus years. A shareholder would expect much more. Gary Lineker, an ex-footballer, who hosted a football results show was rumoured to be paid £3 million a year by the BBC. That was my money!
I love the BBC, generally. They produce good programmes, with no adverts. They match my cultural background. I regret their loss, and have vowed never to vote for those politicians who took my pleasures away from me.
I’ve joined Netflix on a month’s tial. It costs me £6.99. There’s a host of old BBC shows I could watch. It’s not my culture. It is too American. I am English, then British, I was European, and even a Commonweath Citizen, I have never been an American.
Nobody charges me to listen to the radio. I wonder of Radio Luxembourg is now clearer?