Tuesday, October 08, 2013

What is it about the BBC and cabs?

Good Jennifer Saunders quote about the BBC in new issue of Glamour:

"It got so annoying that you were called into these special lunches with the Director General at The Ivy and you were like, 'Fuck off!' This is the license payers' money! I'm paying for the car to take me there - we all are. And I'd like an extra bit of budget on my programme, please, and less of your wheels."

I'm glad she's said this. Ever since I did my first job for the BBC they've been notable for two things: the first is their willingness to offer you derisory sums of money in compensation (money which I've always been happy to accept on the basis that most of the things they ask me to do, nobody else would); the second is their apparent belief that they can make up for this by "sending a car", even though everybody in London knows that "a car" is the slowest, least convenient and most ruinously expensive way to get around.

It's something in the organisation's DNA, this belief that black cars cure all ills. I've seen literally scores of drivers lined up in TV Centre reception waiting to take people home. I've heard stories that they used to send a car from London to Loch Lomond to pick up Billy Connolly. That sounds apocryphal but having seen the amount that senior executives charged the Corporation in order to ensure that their expensive shoes never actually touched the pavement I'm not so sure. 

I don't recognise the organisation that's being called out on bullying and sexual harassment in today's "dossier" from the NUJ but I do recognise exactly what Jennifer Saunders is talking about with the cars.


  1. I was showing someone an old Acorn Computer the other day. "What was the programming language?", they asked.

    "It was BBC Basic".

    "What's BBC Basic?"

    "Oh, about £100,000 a year".

  2. There was a time when I was occasionally asked to comment on radio programmes, sometimes at odd hours of the night or early morning. A car - typically a pretty nice Mercedes-Benz or BMW would pick me up and whisk me to White City. Would I like a car to take me to my next appointment - sure. After the broadcast, however, it was usually a ratty Peugeot that did the honours...

  3. Try working as a freelance comedy writer for them. I stopped doing that years ago, partly because for every comedy show they develop they expect the writers do it on spec - ie absolutely no money unless it gets picked up. And as you know, most of these shows they 'develop' go nowhere but Development Hell'
    Of course the producer, director, technical crew and all the actors get paid. They're all professionals after all. But f*ck the writer. He knows you'll just get someone else and there aren't really many other people to work for so you don't want to get a reputation for being difficult - asking to be paid like everyone else.

  4. Great post, fascinating insight from the inside or something close to it.

  5. I get asked to do BBC stuff occasionally - tech commentary etc Perhaps I should be asking to get paid?

    I agree on taxis, they sit in traffic and then you get phoned and asked if you can jump out and walk anyway.