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11 Feb, 2020 17:31

Forget about balance? BBC now a climate activist saying it’s a ‘privilege’ to have ‘global icon’ Greta Thunberg front new series

Forget about balance? BBC now a climate activist saying it’s a ‘privilege’ to have ‘global icon’ Greta Thunberg front new series

In a bid to peddle its new series on climate change to a wider audience, BBC drops all pretenses of impartiality, as they announce Greta Thunberg will front the latest effort to sell their overtly political environmental message.

With the turmoil surrounding the BBC right now, warring talent arguing over their salaries, the hunt for a new Director General and the bound-to-get-uglier row over the tv licence fee, excitedly announcing a new climate change documentary all about Swedish teen Greta Thunberg shows a palpable lack of feel for the public mood.

But she is exactly the sort of poster child the BBC is looking for, as it turns to climate activism in a bid to boost its audience figures.

The national broadcaster is very much a self-appointed custodian of all things climate. Look at their What is Climate Change website and you will see plenty of broad facts about changes in the environment, but nothing to suggest that environmental change is largely part of the wondrous cycle of nature and not entirely the fault of man. That is where the BBC case lies.

When the hugely popular Blue Planet series brought hi-definition photography of the world’s beauty to the small screen, the BBC realised it had found a franchise that it could sell anywhere in the world, and it opened up a route into the climate change debate.

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But David Attenborough, a nonagenarian possessed with an hypnotically soothing but authoritative voice, is not a climate activist. He always carefully describes himself as a natural historian — I’m sure much to the dismay of BBC producers, because when he strays into discussing man’s impact on the planet, the world goes crazy.

Attenborough must still be smarting from his role in the Netflix Our Planet series, where film of suicidal walruses plummeting from cliffs “because of climate change” was exposed as basically a lie.

Startling film of a female whale swimming along with her dead calf, or a plastic bag floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean creates the sort of public attention and debate the BBC wishes it could enjoy every day.

So if Attenborough is not the guy, they need to find a malleable, well-known face who is on message and relevant to push those things it believes we should be all worrying about day and night.

What about the eldest daughter of Malena Ernman and Svante Thunberg?

Then the BBC simply has to create a premise which they can use to anchor a series about an overt political message on climate change.

We all know where this is going.

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Announcing the series, BBC Studios trotted out the obvious bumph: “Climate change is probably the most important issue of our lives so it feels timely to make an authoritative series that explores the facts and science behind this complex subject.”

Let’s just hold it there. How patronising can this be? This mumbo-jumbo is just the sort of language used by those seizing ownership of an issue and then attempting to spoon-feed the rest of us their pre-digested hoopla.

Rob Liddell, BBC Studios Executive Producer has told us this will be “an authoritative series”. Certainly, we will be the judges of that. Will it be balanced? Will all sides of the argument have a chance to weigh in on this “complex issue?” Somehow, I doubt it.

The patronising inference is that the subject is so “complex,” and we are so stupid that we need the BBC’s world view to enlighten any of our own decisions.

And then the big sell… the frontman declared: “To be able to do this with Greta is an extraordinary privilege, getting an inside view on what it’s like being a global icon and one of the most famous faces on the planet.”

Hmm. This justification for using a teenager, who just two years ago was a regular Swedish schoolgirl, is pure oversell.

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There are literally hundreds of better known “global icons” than young Greta, and for a fawning BBC executive to wrap this up as some sort of “privilege,”  when as everyone knows she will be paid handsomely for her involvement, is not only humiliating, but clearly lays out the strategy that whatever the teenager says, it will be swallowed whole with an earnest nodding of head, chin resting on steepled fingers, and entirely without question.

If the BBC Studios, created from the ashes of BBC Worldwide and the other commercial failures of the BBC back in 2016, is to truly challenge the multinational production companies in producing stand-out programming, then they are going to have to do better than this rubbish.

A lot better.

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