Down to Earth
This week's lecture by Richard MacCormac on his BBC project, delivered to a packed audience at the Geological Society, took on a certain piquancy given the 'crisis' into which the BBC has fallen in the wake of the inquiry by Lord 'Whitewash' Hutton. Tongues wagged during the post-lecture dinner at the Royal Academy, hosted by RA president Phillip King, with various BBC dignitaries in evidence, though the original cast list, including Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke, was amended.
'By their buildings shall ye know them' would be a good guide to the until-recently robust and confident corporation. What a change from the drear Thatcherite years, when the competitionwinning Norman Foster headquarters scheme in Langham Place was abandoned because the governors were worried the government would not sanction funding for the scheme. The corporation is not a lap-dog of government, but an independent voice for the country's licence-payers.
At that time, a word from Whitehall was enough to scupper a major cultural project; thanks to its property deal and PFI contract with Land Securities, the BBC now has a measure of independence over its own activities. As almost any journalist will tell you, the idea that Alastair Campbell in any sense represents good against an evil Today programme is bunkum. Campbell is a dissembler (remember his climb-down over the Blair/Queen Mother's funeral Press Commission complaint? ), and a craven cheerleader for the fat fraudster Robert Maxwell, before he (Campbell) started sucking up to Neil Kinnock, latterly turning his attentions to the Great Helmsman. It