Pomposity Personified David Dimbleby

has called Boris Johnson a “liar, arrogant, and untrustworthy”

in a furious attack over plans to curb the BBC licence fee. “Johnson’s never governed anything, Cummings has never governed anything” said the former Question Time host who, surprisingly, has also never governed anything!

“They’re ignorant, floundering. I don’t think they have a strategy”. 82-year-old Dimbleby made the comments in an interview for Germany’s ARD TV channel. His education was at Charterhouse, he studied French in Paris and Italian in Perugia, and then Christ Church Oxford studied PPE. He was a member of the Bullingdon Club, yes, that socially exclusive student dining and drinking society, and was also editor of the student magazine Isis.

An incident in 1969 led to Dimbleby, then freelance, being called in by the BBC’s Director of Television. During U.S. President Richard Nixon’s visit to the UK, a reference by Dimbleby to UK and US government heads “expensively hired” press secretaries whose job is to disguise the truth” was given much attention by the British press.

How much was Dimbleby paid for Question Time from the licence fee? He reportedly “earned” £450,000 per year for hosting Question Time. A report on BBC salaries from The Telegraph reported that sum, and “As Dimbleby hosts 30 episodes of Question Time each year, this works out at £15,000 per episode”. 

He accused the Prime Minister of using the issue to undermine the corporation, and also said election victory made PM ‘arrogant with power’. Dimbleby said the PM was ‘apeing Donald Trump’ by using the same ‘political rulebook’ to try to control the media. And he took a fierce sideswipe at Mr Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings, seen as the driving force behind Downing St threats to cut the licence fee, or scrap it altogether.

His comments were disclosed after Downing Street mooted a radical overhaul that could mean introducing a subscription model, forcing the sale of most BBC radio stations, cutting the number of TV stations and reducing the amount of online content.

Senior BBC figures have been encouraging people to sign a petition demanding the PM stops trying to ‘undermine’ the broadcaster. In the full transcript, Dimbleby said ‘The whole idea of a national broadcaster that speaks truth to the nation and is impartial and objective is under threat”. Imagine that for BBC arrogance…truth…impartial…objective!

But he conceded that the Government’s anti-licence fee move was a ‘clever strategy’. It was a “good moment to latch on to the growth in Netflix and social media to argue “why should people pay £154 a year to watch the BBC when they don’t watch the BBC. What are they paying for?”. 

TV licence payers made the likes of Dimbleby filthy rich. Now, he wants those of us over 75 to pay for  others to follow. It stinks and Boris Johnson should ignore the bluster and remember this. Two years ago The Telgraph published a table of the BBC star salaries. It contained 96 names, but the real number was higher as a technicality allowed the true figures to be masked. The government required the disclosure of “people paid more than £150,000 of licence fee revenue” in the last financial year. But that means direct payment only. Anyone who is paid via an independent production company is exempt from the list, as is anyone paid by the corporation’s commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. It included Question Time!

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