Coffee House

The BBC and religion

17 March 2013

It is to David Lammy’s credit that he hasn’t deleted what my Spectator colleague, Hugo Rifkind, describes as his new all-time favourite tweet. For those who haven’t come across it yet, this is how the Tottenham MP responded to the BBC’s coverage of the papal election where it mentioned “white smoke”:

There were more solid grounds for criticising the BBC that day: the corporation again showed its problems understanding religion. It managed to find a translator for the Vatican election who didn’t know the Lord’s Prayer. As Pope Francis hit his knees, and the crowd joined him in unison, the translator was desperately trying to work out what was going on:

‘Our father who are in the Heaven, be your name blessed… be your will done as in earth so above….deliver us from our sins as we deliver them from, um, from the sinners…’

It’s not the first time the BBC has been thrown by covering people in prayer. It was the same in the Olympics: when runners would pray on the start-up line, or at the finish, the BBC commentators maintained a baffled silence.

The American commentators were able to explain it all to viewers, putting the athletes – and their incredible stories – in to perspective. The runner Lopez Lomong (right) was a Somalian refugee saved by Catholic missionaries and taken to America. So if he looked as if he was giving thanks, this is why. When Mo Farah prayed after winning, the BBC commentators pretended it wasn’t happening. Which is a shame: it was (for me) a wonderful moment: a Muslim who fell to his knees, bowed to the southeast and prayed – while crowds roared a man called Mohammed became Britain’s new national hero. It was a wonderful reminder that the Olympics was being hosted by one of the tolerant nations on earth.

Once, Brits made Oscar-winning films about faith and athletics. Now, the BBC as an institution just doesn’t understand it. No comprende. This blind spot manifests itself everywhere: in BBC America’s failure to broadcast the spectacular Carols From Kings, one of the most beautiful spectacles of English Christianity. It’s as if the producers can’t work out why anyone in the modern world want to watch people singing songs about God.


But the biggest reminder of the BBC’s problem with religious coverage comes at 7.50am each morning: Radio Four’s Thought for The Day slot. It’s quite something to give a prime breakfast time slot to someone from the God squad. The speakers are described as being ‘from across the world’s major faiths,’ but almost always from the political left. Their ‘thought’ can often be summed up as: ‘Jesus was left-wing, too.’ That’s not much of an exaggeration: I remember one finishing a Thought for The Day by saying ‘That’s not just Polly Toynbee’s message – it’s God’s.’

How I miss Rabbi Lionel Blue (right), whose wonderful, subtle and apolitical insights would stick in your mind for days (or even years). You don’t have to be religious to be moved by original and well-expressed religious thought. As the atheist Douglas Murray argued in The Spectator recently, non-believers are interested in religion. Yet on Thought for The Day, the highest-profile given to any religious broadcast, we get lobotomised inanity. The quality gap with the rest of the Today programme is often stunning. As Charles Moore once observed in his Spectator column:

‘As a regular Radio 4 listener, I find there is no more discouraging phrase currently in use than “John Bell of the Iona Community”‘

So why is it so bad? I can only guess that the producers of the Today programme hate the slot, but are forced to keep it by the BBC hierarchy due to some public service mandate – so they fill it with junk as a protest. That slot is perhaps the nation’s no1 pulpit, a chance to talk to 7m listeners. But in the Sunday Times Magazine today, Justin Welby tells Dominic Lawson that even he never listens to it. And this takes us back to the biggest problem with the BBC: its outdated remit as a public service broadcaster. It does so many things brilliantly, why force it to do what it obviously is uncomfortable with? When something is done from a reluctant sense of duty, it’s seldom done well.

The BBC justifies its licence fee on the ground that it performs a vital national service, and we’d be lost without it. Two decades ago, this was perhaps true. No longer. Sky News regularly bests the BBC (as it did over the Jubilee celebrations) and on the papal election night, Sky’s translator not only knew the Our Father but recited it alongside intelligent comment from Austen Ivereigh and (best of all) stunning HD footage. Sky Arts offers quality not to be found on any subsidised British channel, rejecting the as false the choice between commercial and highbrow. You can guarantee that, on Wednesday, Sky’s Jeff Randall will cover the Budget better than anyone.

If people want religion, they can find it on the proliferation of channels who specialise in it. Catholics can watch EWTN, for example. If the BBC dropped its religious slots there would hardly be howls of protest. I’m not even sure many people would notice – certainly not the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The BBC is a world-class broadcaster, a great national asset. No one one Europe does current affairs better. And I’d happily pay twice the licence fee for CBeebies alone. I’m not criticising its coverage of the conclave, I just don’t think you can say that the BBC covers religion better than its commercial rivals. As the BBC’s rivals grow stronger and the media grows more diverse, its claim to offer an inimitable ‘public service’ necessarily grows weaker.

UPDATE: I’m told that Thought For The Day is not produced by the Today team but by some other part of the Beeb empire. This helps explain the quality gap. Also Shenagh Fogarty from Five Live tweets that she was proud of its conclave coverage, which I didn’t hear. I can believe it: Five Live is another BBC service which is itself worth the licence fee.

And this from Jon Sopel:-

And this from another great BBC creation: Peter Mannion MP

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  • Ian Paul

    Interesting, but completely illogical. If the BBC does not do religion well, the answer is to do it well, not stop doing it. Don’t like the BBC? Spend five minutes watching TV in America, and see the appalling alternative.

  • Helen Highwater

    Why should the commentators have reflected on Mo Farah’s praying? Any idiot could see what was happening before them. A fact lost on ITV’s Andy Townsend, who seems to think ITV Football viewers can’t see the pitch. And as for the brilliance of US sport broadcasting, I am reminded of the US interviewer who recently asked Mo Farah “If he had done any running before”. No doubt in the US it’s acceptable to shoehorn religion into any given programme, glad it definitely isn’t here.

  • Helen Highwater

    Can anyone remember any fabulous religious programming on Sky or ITV? Do they “do” religion at all? If you are someone who “fails to see the point of the BBC” I suggest you don’t bandy about your laughable ignorance so widely and come back when you find out why it is important.

    Good if the BBC does religion “uncomfortably” at times. We should all have an uncomfortable, challenging relation with it and not be indoctrinated.

  • Jack Harrison


    This tweet from the BBC is crass and unnecessary…..

    Oh is it? We aren’t all religous and the mechanism of making different colour smoke is far more fascinating than reading about old men in fancy dress.

  • Jane Maple

    Baffled silence would appear to be a perfectly rational response to religion. Why any intelligent person should bow and scrape before an imaginary friend for whom there is less evidence than there is for the tooth fairy is completely beyond understanding. The BBC should be reminded that the majority of English residents now do not have any religious belief, and stop giving religion undue attention.

  • John Glenn

    I stopped going to Sunday School in my mid-teens, because the Bible, particularly the New Testament, was full of left wing indoctrination about love, caring for others and forgiveness. If you think that the BBC is bad, you should try reading the socialist tract which goes by the name of the Gospels.

    • Daniel Maris

      What did you join then? The Woodcraft Folk?

  • Ian Walker

    I wish journalists and commentators would filter out BBC News from the rest of the BBC when talking about the leftist bias. A large amount of the BBCs factual output is of unparalleled quality, especially in science, which is barely covered at all on other TV and radio networks. To lose it would be a massive loss to British culture.
    On the other hand, the News department is clearly a festering nest of self-congratulatory champagne socialists, with a constant and relentless agenda to skew the news output in favour of their middle-class guilt-ridden quasi-religion of socialism.
    Compare and contrast their Friday output – the coverage of the election of a new Pope – clueless, witless, embarrassing and insulting (even if an atheist like me can add ‘amusing’ on the end), but at the same time their huge support of Comic Relief, which appears to spend a lot of its time and effort counteracting the inhumanity that many religions either countenance or ignore when it’s done in their name,
    This of course suits both extremes of the debate – the lefties point to the non-news output and laud the quality and lack of bias. The anti-Beebers point at the News coverage of the average Tory conference and demand that the license fee be scrapped.
    Me, I’d prefer one but not the other. I couldn’t bare to lose BBC Four, the only intelligent programming left on my 9,348,623 cable channels. Even the smug lefty Radio 4 ‘comedy’ output throws up the odd good joke, and when it doesn’t it acts as a good reminder why socialists should never be put in charge of anything other than a committee to elect the next committee. None of those things would survive in a commercial world, and it’s disingenuous to pretend that they would. But the news department, as far as I’m concerned, should be packed off to their new ‘largest newsroom on Earth’ and then locked inside it and the transmitters turned off.
    They’re so insular and navel-gazing it’d probably take them a few weeks to notice.

  • John_Page

    So how many reporters DID the BBC have in the Vatican at our expense?

  • Daniel Maris

    The Pope’s got some explaining to do about his connections with the torturing, raping, murdering fascist Argentine regime. He seems to have been very cosy with them. Are there any published statements where he condemned their torturing, raping, and murdering of young idealistic students?

  • Radford_NG

    It is years now that Freddy Forysth(?)…a Conservative loyalist opposed to the EU……was banned from `Thought`.And David Bellamy was banned from the BBC for climate-denial.And Bill Oddie was sacked on a spurious excuse which if justified would have been the fault of his editor(it being a recorded item).Similar with the banning of Ray Gosling from the BBC.

    • Daniel Maris

      You are getting confused. That was the Liddell thought piece. Not Thought for the Day.

  • Radford_NG

    “And now Rabbi Lionel Blue with his Thought for the Day.”________________________”Aloud,please, Lionel.”

  • Vrai Telemachus

    The whole point of doing things badly is to ensure that people stop paying attention. While BBC religion is as devoid of intelligent representation as BBC politics people get used to tuning it out. It becomes a hobby for some odd people that are not like us.

    This is how the revolution advances. Look at the TV schedules. They are filled with programmes that turn a man’s brain to jelly. If you knew your Aldous Huxley you would know what is being done. He could see it happening. But you hope that just one change in the schedules here or there will suddenly restore the ability to think to the general population.

    It is too late. Enjoy Songs of Praise. It is not going anywhere. Even social democrats appreciate the value of such misdirection. Religion is no threat to the revolution while it is represented by the anodyne and the barely believing.

    • Vrai Telemachus

      The goon is back

      • Vrai Telemachus

        I’ve never gone away. You are the bogus reactionary troll trying to make me look bad!

  • Daniel Maris

    Well I suppose BBC could indulge in those Channel 4 style thought pieces where genuinely unrestrained religious nutters get the chance to put their point of view across. However, one might say that they are being kind to religion by keeping such people off.

    • AY

      look – I am an atheist.
      and still I am astounded by the sheer malignancy of what became acceptable in society vis a vis morality and values, – which has (had?) something to do with “religion”.

      the author chooses high profile sporting event as an example where to place “great British hero”, and approves that placement by the stamp of “religion”.

      he didn’t choose funeral of fallen soldier, – real British hero.
      he didn’t choose wedding of a soldier just before his assignment to Afghanistan.
      classical Christian themes of chivalry, loyalty and sacrifice.

      the author is very comfortable with that triple betrayal –

      first, trivializing and diminishing “British” and “hero”.
      second, creating by that, a fasle sense of interruption of civilizational and dutiful continuity of what is understood by “people” and “country”.
      and third, that evil travesty of the murderous enemy cult taking over and monopolizing the very notion of national valour.

      this is very clear picture of degradation. and we are supposed to be satisfied by it, not inspite – BECAUSE we see it for what it is.

      • Daniel Maris

        Where did you learn your English? Just wondering…

        • AY

          bad news told in bad English – harmony at least.. 😀

          • Daniel Maris

            Well, sorry to tell you mate but in our country we call that “not an answer to the question”.

            • AY

              well I learned some English while working for 30 years in 5 English speaking countries.. yes I know Joseph Konrad and Vladimir Nabokov did better.

  • Daniel Maris

    Blue’s not dead by the way. Would have been clearer to say “miss Blue’s broadcasts”.

  • AY

    as person not watching TV & not listening radio for about 5 years, – I only can offer my sincere condolences to all bloggers.

    briefly speaking, – their language is engineered, facts misrepresented, logics is broken, and agenda is mean.

    BBC broadcasts presume that their non-muslim audience is primitive, infantile, ignorant, self-aggrandizing, idiotically egalitarian, instinctively consumerist, cowardly and in the end, nihilistic human cattle.

    that line is taken with purpose. the idea is, we are all urged, in our subconscience, to feel how low we are, how our mediocre civilization is worth nothing, how chaotic it is and how it deserves to be replaced by something better.

    and then, here cometh “a man called Mohammed.. Britain’s new national hero.”
    no trace of freaking irony.
    how fast we forgot 7/7. well, yeah, cattle are not supposed to remember.

    I’m not sure if the author was given additional monetary bonus for this phrase, from some separate paycode established we-all-know-by-whom.

    BBC is the realm of lies and the nest of treason no matter how many disguises it uses to seem innocuous.

    • Daniel Maris

      Cattle? Isn’t that hate speech? (Though Mehdi denies it.)

      • anotherjoeblogs

        yes it was and it shouldn’t be forgotten.

  • HookesLaw

    I always assumed that the subtitles are done by a machine – they often get words wrong.

    But quite why you can give David Lammy credit for anything is beyond me. You are happy to slag off conservatives and take no prisoners but give twerps like Lammy credit???

    Give me strength… or should I say ‘Jesus wept’?

  • Chris A

    Jon Sopel can hardly talk. he was telling us all evening that “habemus papam” means “there is a pope”. It took them an absolute age as well to translate “Franciscum”

  • Rockin Ron

    “I just don’t think you can say that the BBC covers religion better than its commercial rivals.”

    On that basis you could argue Sky covers sport better than the BBC so it should have no sport, yet millions enjoyed the Six Nations coverage. It is a poor argument to say that just because a service can be provided better by a commercial channel, the BBC should not also provide it, because most of what is provided by the BBC could be better provided by its commercial rivals – music, current affairs, drama, movies, arts and documentary for example. Lobotomised inanity indeed. Seriously thinking of cancelling my subscription.

  • robheggie1

    “It’s as if the producers can’t work out why anyone in the modern world want to watch people singing songs about God.”

    …well, yeah.

  • Donafugata

    The BBC coverage couldn’t have been worse than Channel 4 News who seemed to have left Jon Snow alone to comment.
    These days Snow can’t even read from an auto cue without fluffing but he should never, ever be allowed to ad lib his embarrassing drivel.

    The announcement of Francis was in Latin but Snow was clueless. How hard is it to find a cleric to translate Latin and Italian in Rome?

    At least the BBC had an Italian speaker translate, sotto voce, the new Pope’s message as he delivered it. Channel 4 allowed the monolingual Snow to spout absolute drivel and drown out what Francis was saying.

    • Donafugata

      Just to clarify, that should have been, BBC4 World News.

    • HookesLaw

      Jon Snow has run out of left wing invective and must make it up on the hoof.

  • David Boothroyd

    The BBC’s translator was clearly not a native English speaker – he had an Italian accent. He may have recognised the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ but he translated it as it was. Would have been very unusual for a translator not familiar with it to come up with the standard KJV wording. In other words this is really a bogus complaint.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      No, because if all that were true the translator would have noted the Lord’s Prayer (note the lack of punctuation used with this common-to-all-but-lefty-apologists term) was being prayed.

      Nice try, or rather, not so nice try.

    • salieri

      Not at all. Any educated interpreter hearing the opening of the Lord’s Prayer in English – whether from the KJB or the AV (what is the ‘KJV’, pray?) or otherwise – would instantly have come up with the Lord’s Prayer in Italian, and vice-versa. All it means is that the BBC, in readiness for the relay of the decade from the Vatican, chose an atheist interpreter. Comical, really.

      • Tom Tom

        You call it KJB and English people call it KJV

    • Tom Tom

      Why would a Roman Catholic use the KJV ?

  • TRAV1S

    The BBC vs Religion

    The BBC is a religion, or a least a cult, second only to the NHS in this country. The BBC’s Magisterium decides what is acceptable or unacceptable behaviour . Let us pray…

    Our Auntie
    Who art in Media City
    Hallowed be thy name
    Thy BBC1
    Thy will be done
    On earth as it is in Media City
    Give us this day our daily news
    And forgive us our phobias
    As we call phobics bigots
    And lead us not to Fox News
    But deliver us from Thatcher


    • Austin Barry

      We do not wish to slam
      But honestly
      We prefer Islam.

    • Tom Tom

      The BBC is The Church of England. It receives a Tithe or Church Tax. It preaches Sermons and guides the flock. It resents usurpers in the form of Cathedrals and Churches

  • justsaying

    Fraser I agree that Thought for the Day is variable in its quality (a consequence of its hasty organisation no doubt) but you fail to mention all of the stellar religious programming on BBC tv and radio: Sunday Worship for example. These programmes make no money and are largely ignored in secular Britain. If the Beeb stopped doing them, religion would disappear entirely from mainstream broadcasting and the usual suspects would complain about it pandering to the leftie atheists etc.

  • UlyssesReturns

    I could not care less how the BBC deals with religion anymore as they certainly do not appear to understand that we live in a supposedly Christian country whose Head of State is also the head of the established church. I also no longer care how they deal with politics given the constand left-wing bias on the news, Newsnight, Question Time and Andrew Marr. After last week I will no longer watch This Week with its solid lefty line up which included the war-crimes apologist, Alistair Cambell, the appalling Giles Fraser, that muslim marxist Mehdi Hassan, some other pinko and the increasingly camp Portillo – and I always thought Brillo Neil was the standard bearer for political impartiality; just wait until I see him on Wednesday. I now watch Sky News, reruns on other Freeview channels, and the fantastic Netflix (half the price of the license and twice the value of everything else on TV). I have lived in muslim countries that respect Christianity more than therse BBC and Channel 4 liberal Guardianistas force-feeding us their multicultural trotskyite tosh. Jesus would indeed weep.

    • Donafugata

      This Week seems to have some sort of rehabilitation of offenders agenda as it welcomes the likes of the execrable Jackie Smith.

      It is quite outrageous that these types are encouraged. No doubt Chris Hulne will be invited to share his prison experience in the not distant enough future.

      • HookesLaw

        I’ve seen Prescott on there as well and not to mention the worlds greatest unconvinced criminal, Alistair Campbell.

        • salieri

          Actually, Hookie, I doubt he’s ever been unconvinced. Just beware of the libel laws.

          • HookesLaw

            you have him to a ‘t’.

            • salieri

              By a remarkable coincidence I have just been re-reading chapter 12 (“A body in the woods”) of Andrew Rawnsley’s magisterial tome “The End of the Party”. How the whole vile episode comes flooding back. The cynical decision, approved by Blair – and denied by Blair – to hang a decent but naïve man out to dry, for one thing. The BBC’s grovelling self-evisceration (when for once it was in the right) for another, following the Hutton whitewash that even the Government thought “too good to be true” (ch.14). Looking at what it has since become, ‘eternal damnation’ may not be an overstatement.

              • Vrai Telemachus

                revisionist Blair had much wrong with him
                But at least he allowed Gordon to marshal the resources for a major investment in helping the poor and the sick before being blown off course by Lehman
                (Facebook G 25)

                • chudsmania

                  You actually mean spending money he didnt have , before being found out. You dont need Google translate for that.

    • Tom Tom

      Giles Fraser is confused because he was brought up in a Jewish household and circumcised

      • Vrai Telemachus

        For once I agree with both you and my father

        This pap in a recent thought for the day from Giles F

        “So why is it that all the churches – and not just the Roman Catholic church – seem to attract so many gay men who are themselves so virulently hostile to homosexuality? Perhaps it has to do with a misplaced sense of shame about being gay, a sense of shame that they go on to reinforce by being vocal supporters of the very theology that they themselves have been the victims of. As the novelist Roz Kaveney tweeted yesterday: “I feel sorry for O’Brien. I hope one day he realizes that the sense of sexual sinfulness the Church forced on him was an abuse.” And that “O’Brien needs to distinguish between his sexual desires and his bad behavior and not see all of it as sin.” I totally agree. ”

        This is getting on for equivalence to the South African Cardinal who said pedophilia was a psychological disorder

    • JoshuaCzajkowski

      Whilst i agree that the BBC is a confused entity and cannot cover anything that isn’t multi-cultural without shaking at the knees in a nervous fit…the BBC is not there to respect Christianity or any other religion.

      • Vrai Telemachus

        It might be expected that the national public broadcaster of a Christian country would indeed respect the Christian religion and have some knowledge and understanding of it.

        That the forces of social democracy (do allow me to use that term rather than Marxist as it frightens the sheep less) have been able to convince people like JoshuaCzajkowski (a good new-British name by the way) that the last thing they should do is respect Christianity in a Christian country is a mark of how successful we have been and how little the people understand that almost all the benefits they enjoyed in being British depended on that Christian heritage they value so little.

        But the BBC has taught them well, and it was worth the investment in time which was taken to so thoroughly corrupt it. Hardly anyone alive can remember a different BBC. It was too easy and know we have an insiduous voice beaming our philosophy into every home.

        • JoshuaCzajkowski

          1) I am an Atheist so I disagree with all religion and actively despise them but I am completely fine with private networks supporting religions and I am actually against the idea of a socialised national broadcaster.

          2) I am centre-right when it comes to a lot of things including economics.

          3) What has my name got to do with any of my political/economic/religious views? If you must know I have a Polish name because my Grandfather actually fought in the British army during WW2 and he settled here in 1946 and married a British woman(My nan). My father and I were born in this country.

          • Tom Tom

            30-year old Guardian reader who thinks he owns the BBC who also cannot spell “licence”. It is also fallacious to claim EVERY CITIZEN of the UK must pay a TV Tax. It is simply UNTRUE. There is no legislation to make that so. I should be surprised if your grandfather fought in the British Army since most Poles fought in the Polish Armed Forces which was separate and run largely by General Maczek with overall command under General Sikorski. John Reith saw absolutely no problem in upholding Christianity even after his private company was nationalised in 1926 to force out Thomson-Houston and Marconi as shareholders

            • JoshuaCzajkowski

              I am not 30 or a Guardian reader. I do not think I own the BBC and it was clearly a typo. I also think I know more about my own grandfather’s history. Plus if you are watching programmes on devices as they are being transmitted you have to pay a TV licence.
              By the way, using capital letters is just silly…I can clearly read what you write without the capital letters.

        • Vrai Telemachus

          The goon

  • Smithersjones2013

    The BBC justifies its licence fee on the ground that it performs a vital national service, and we’d be lost without it.
    Well I’m not lost without it. I doubt I watch/ listen to more than even 50 hours BBC per year (less than 1 hour per week).. I watch commercial TV for many hours a week,. I listen to commercial radio for many hours per week as well and I get my news from numerous sources and would never accept the BBC view of things as I view them as a left wing propaganda mouthpiece much as the dire MNBC is viewed on US cable.

    Consequently the BBC serves no real purpose at all in my book. Perhaps if they were used to solely carry all those interminable government adverts that we have to suffer they might have a use but whilst they produce the garbage that they do now they are just a waste of increasingly in dfemand resources.

    • dug1

      Nelson’s on the payroll – and I’ll bet you’ll be seeing his face and hearing his voice more and more on the beeb so he is careful not to alienate himself from the metro left hence the salute to muslims, 5 live etc

  • Eddie

    Thought for The Day is as bland, inane, trite, uncontroversial, politically correct and insignificant as its contributors, who see it as a ‘nice little earner’, especially as the BBC seems to use the same dullards over and over again.

    Oh for someone to throw over the moneychangers’ tables and to go off on one against anything, instead of being so damn pompous and overtly tolerant of everything – and utterly hypocritical in doing so, because many contributors prattling on about how to solve world poverty are millionaires actually, when one factors in their big houses in London (And why can’t atheists and agnostics conrtibute to Thought for the Day anyway?)

    It’s worth remembering that faith (actually believing in the supernatural and multifarious mumbo-jumbo jollies) is only a tiny part of religions – mostly they are about community, social gathering, tradition, history, belonging, tribal and national identity and expression, ethics (taken from human society that evolved those laws), music, art, architecture, food, drink etc

    • Fergus Pickering

      Why can’t atheists… because no atheist ever had an atheistic thought worth sharing.

      • Austin Barry


        What about Matisse, Monet, Duchamp, Le Corbusier, Picasso, Raphael etc. etc?

        I could continue, Fergus, but your point is so patently absurd as to not warrant the effort.

        • alexsandr

          better and athiest than men in dresses discussing their imaginary friends

          • FMarion

            Alexsandr: You object to kilts now? Where does this road of prejudice end?

        • Fergus Pickering

          Austin, do you ever read the posts you criticise. Read it again, old chap. Go on, very word including the adjective. Got it?

          • Austin Barry

            Er, Fergus, you’re quite right. I read ‘atheistic’ as ‘aesthetic’. Apologies. I’m off to the naughty step with a glass of Bowmore.

    • Makroon

      To be honest, ‘Thought for the day’ is indeed superficial and right-on, but in that, it accurately tracks the quality of the average sermon in the average church (congregation 50 maybe).
      The days of splendid, erudite men, giving well-constructed, thought provoking sermons, to packed congregations, ended decades ago, Nowadays, it is mostly sappy simpletons trotting out undigested drivel.

  • Vrai Telemachus

    It is not left wing to preach or pray about the poor
    The first actions of the new Pope are a breath of fresh air

    • Austin Barry

      Liberation theology in action, eh, Tele?

      • Vrai Telemachus

        I have always admired Oscar Romero and to my mind more humility from the church and ministering and broadcasting to the poor will be welcome

  • country_exile

    Good article, Fraser Nelson is always worth listening to and his points about the BBC are well made – and merited.

  • alexsandr

    increasingly I am failing to see the point of the BBC. A tiny part of their output is any good. And much of it could be in the commercial sector. we need a proper definition of what public service broadcasting is and the rest should be left to the market to provide.

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      I agree. Indeed, what a simple way of letting people keep £150 each year without all that hand wringing about cutting taxes. Just remove the licence fee obligation for those people who opt out of watching the BBC. It should be technologically possible to scramble the signal and then unscramble it for those who pay a BBC subscription. The rest of us can keep our £150 and it might prompt the BBC to produce output that people are actually willing to pay for instead of leftist propaganda. They could save a bit of money by sacking Chris “part time” Patton.

      • Tom Tom

        Why don’t you simply stop watching Live TV and not pay a licence tax ?

        • Vrai Telemachus

          I don’t have a licence at present and hope to escape detection.

          • Pat. Pending

            Criminal offence, risky if caught watching SKY with no licence. Pestered by busy bodies and threatening mail and have to justify owning a TV. Better off paying the £150 quid for a quiet life

          • Vrai Telemachus

            We have been free all weekend of this goon
            Now the idiot is back
            I will return to codes
            (via Facebook – B17 next from table column7, line 11

      • Vrai Telemachus

        I fail to see evidence of BBC left wing bias
        As you point out it is run by a part time Chairman of the Right wing Conservative party
        One of their main political presenters Andrew Neil is the right hand man of the proprietor of the extreme right wing Fox News

        • 2trueblue

          Andrew Neil is the sole, sane, intelligent interviewer, who happens to work for the BBC. It must be very lonely.

      • Tom Tom

        The TV Tax is levied on those who WATCH LIVE TV whether on iPhone or laptop or TV receiver. It has nothing to do with watching BBC.

  • Austin Barry

    “When Mo Farah hit his knees and prayed after winning, the BBC commentators pretended it wasn’t happening. Which is a shame: it was (for me) a wonderful moment: a Muslim who fell to his knees, bowed to the southeast and prayed.”

    Really? I thought it rather sinister.

    • Davey4Lyfe

      thats because you are a narrow minded bigot

      • Austin Barry

        Isn’t that a tautology?

        • Smithersjones2013

          You can be narrow minded without being bigoted and I am sure that some bigots are sufficiently open minded to take on board numerous new prejudices and even potentially contradictory ones at a whim. So no it is not a tautology……

        • HookesLaw

          No its a nice way to tell you you are a little sh!t.

    • AY

      oh don’t be so negative Austin. just read that sentence again. and again. and again. try to focus on “wonderful moment”. emphasize it. love it. love it again. don’t lose hope. remember, – everybody who recognizes the truth, will be offered mercy.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …or else.

  • CraigStrachan

    “I’d happily pay twice the licence fee for CBeebies alone”

    Right. How old are they now, Fraser?

    • Fraser Nelson

      no, for my own pleasure. The kids hate it.

      • Paddy S

        no chance you will write yourself on religion again Fraser? For this Irish history and religion teacher you are not bad.

  • Tom Tom

    “he BBC justifies its license fee” So Fraser you are a foreigner but it would be good if you would spell LICENCE the English way

    • Span Ows

      Both are English; what Fraser has done is use the verb instead of the noun. I bet he gets practise/ practice wrong too…what advice would you give him; how would you advise him? 😉

      • Tom Tom

        I am aware that as a Scotsman he has confused the English VERB with the English NOUN. My point was that the VERB was wholly inappropriate when used as an ADJECTIVAL NOUN. I would advise him to act like a Journalist and CHECK, CHECK, and CHECK again before he commits FACTS to PAPER………….it is a very old tradition from times when Journalism had PROFESSIONALS

      • HookesLaw

        I think its a simple matter of setting the spell checker to UK English from USA.
        Mr Nelson is of course not foreign, he is British. the bigots are out in force this evening. nothing new I suppose.

      • Theodoxia

        One of my more eccentric teachers once told me “you would think it should be an s for substantive, but it’s not, it’s a c”; that’s remained with me ever since.

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