Wednesday, November 09, 2011

We've got a groovy thing going at the BBC


Yesterday brought something very rare, a television programme worth watching. BBC TV screened The Harmony Game - American director Jennifer Lebeau's portrait of the making of Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Made with the full co-operation and participation of the duo plus contributions from producer Roy Halee and others involved in the album's production, this documentary informed while avoiding the all too common pitfall of a presenter gratuitously interposing himself between subject and audience,

Well, at least Jennifer Lebeau avoided the presenter trap. But the BBC did not. The Harmony Game was bought from the States as a 72 minute stand alone package. Despite which the BBC topped and tailed it with a three minute intro by presenter Alan Yentob, star of 'Noddygate', shot on location in Forest Hills, New York City. Which added nothing at all to Jennifer Lebeau's documentary but must have cost BBC license payers an arm and a leg.

But then Alan Yentob is no stranger to hitting the license payers where it hurts. At one time he was reportedly being paid £325,000 as BBC creative director while receiving additional fees for presenting the Imagine series, which last night's documentary was shoehorned into. On top of these two income streams Yentob was drawing a BBC final salary pension. In 2010 the post of creative director was axed, with a suitably comforting pay off. Which means the 64 year old Yentob is now struggling to survive on his fees as a presenter plus a BBC pension.

Talking of which, Alan Yentob's accumulated BBC pension fund is £6.3 million, one of the biggest in the UK public sector. This gives him an inflation linked annual retirement income of £216,667. All of which explains why BBC Radio 3 is being forced to save money by reducing broadcast work for the Ulster Orchestra.

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