Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 3/10/2003The true and shocking state of the BBC is revealed this morning, as Nick Hornby guests on Desert Island Discs. I'm no fan of the man, and find his brand of sensitive laddism irksome.

Friday 3/10/2003
The true and shocking state of the BBC is revealed this morning, as Nick Hornby guests on Desert Island Discs. I'm no fan of the man, and find his brand of sensitive laddism irksome. My idea of hell is being forced to watch Arsenal play while listening to Bruce Springsteen with a emotionally illiterate bloke in the middle of a mid-life crisis: you can imagine how much I like the books.

However, Sue Lawley's brand of soppy ineptitude proves no match even for Hornby. I listen with half an ear to the show while tapping away at the diary: sometimes I think Radio 4's daytime schedule only exists as aural wallpaper for the middle classes to do something else to. No adverts, no music you might actually want to pay attention to, and just You and Yours to help you get a decent head of spleen up.

At the end, of course, it's time for the luxury item. Hornby chooses an iPod with seven thousand tunes on. This of course negates the whole idea of DID and is a stunning slap across the face for the format of one of the BBC's longest-running shows. Summoning up the full force of her years of inquisatorial experience, Sue Lawley strikes: "What's an iPod?"

Hornby explains. "It plays MP3s". The sound of enlightenment failing to dawn fills the nation's airwaves. Hornby explains further. Finally Lawley twigs, and works out that he's pulling a fast one.

"Oh, well... you can have it, but nobody else will be allowed."

Roy Plomley must be revolving at 78RPM in his grave. Gone are the days when a luxury would be closely examined for conformance to the rules of non-utility or any hint of cheating. In Plomley's day, Hornby would have been sent packing with a Subbuteo set or something equally suited.

How can we trust the BBC when it plays fast and loose with the very fabric of its most hallowed institutions? Questions must be asked in the House, and Sue Lawley sent on a intensive course of cultural and technological re-education. Nothing else will do if the nation is to survive.

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