Tuesday, 4 November 2008

The BBC gets it right with these programmes

The BBC, quite rightly in my opinion, has been on the receiving end of a lot of criticism as a result of the stupid prank on the Russell Brand show. I was one of those very concerned about the event, the fact that the BBC employed these idiots, payed them ridiculous amounts of money, and that they had dropped their standards to a new low. Without wanting to sound elitist I have to say that there are certain standards of respect and decency that a public service provider should not fall below. Period.

It is pleasing though to flag up two current series on BBC television that are, in their separate ways, absolutely superb and show just how good the corporation can be. The first one I would mention is running on Sunday evenings and it is following Stephen Fry on a trip around the USA. I guess that it is no coincidence that this is being shown around the period of the election over there! Certainly Mr Fry is doing a great job in showing the incredible diversity of people, culture and scenery in that amazing country. As I would expect the series is showing just how open Americans are as a people, and their personalities gel well with Stephen's laid back style. It was good to be reminded about just how empty much of this huge country is once you are away from the cities on the coastal plains and around the Great Lakes. As we are an island nation here in Britain I had never much thought about borders so it was a bit of a shock to see the fencing erected to inhibit incursions from Mexicans on the southern border. Stephen has been an excellent guide and I'm looking forward to the next episode when I think he gets towards the Pacific having started his journey on the Atlantic shoreline.

The other programme that deserves a bouquet is one on BBC2: this a follow up to the popular Dragons' Den programme. Dragons' Den of course is the show in which would be entrepreneurs make a pitch for cash and expertise to a panel of five very successful millionaires who have built their empires from scratch. Of course many folk go away empty handed but the great thing is that others do get a leg up with their businesses. Now I am a great admirer of all those people in this country who have great ideas and then want to put them into practice. We have had and still have incredible talent in this country to invent and make great products and come up with great ideas; of course the intention of the programme makers is to provide good entertainment for the viewers but to me it is really important to demonstrate our entrepreneurial instincts as a nation. As I said at the top of this paragraph this is a follow up to DD - there are five 1 hour programmes each looking at one of the Dragons, to look in on their family lives, how they run their businesses, what the other four dragons think of them (!) together with examples of the successes they have had in investing in the people who have nervously pitched before them. As usual Evan Davis keeps a welcome light touch on this background series, hardly intruding at all on the proceedings - other programme presenters please note! There are two down now and three to go, this series is very absorbing so well done to the BBC!

A quick aside: I have just had a quick peak at the BBC's Dragons' Den website (to make sure I spelt the presenter's name correctly!) and was surprised to see that the original Dragons' Den or its equivalent came from Japan. They say you learn something new every day!

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