A dramatic and revealing history of the BBC during some of its most turbulent and testing years
About the book
During the Margaret Thatcher years, Britain experienced mass unemployment, trade union strikes, bloody war in Northern Ireland and the Falklands, and an existential threat to its public service broadcaster, the BBC. Pounded by a coherent free market argument, the BBC had to justify its right to the Licence Fee and its independent place in the 'unwritten' British constitution. It did so by producing memorable programmes for the whole British public (not just for the groups that advertisers liked), bolstered by a surprising amount of help from elements of the Conservative government (although not from Thatcher). Drawing on previously unseen state and BBC papers, many released specifically for this dramatic and revealing account, as well as a compelling range of interviewees, Jean Seaton examines the turbulent controversies (stirred up by programmes such as Maggie's Militant Tendency) and the magnificent triumphs (such as Life on Earth and Morecambe and Wise) of an institution that Britain loved and hated, and in many ways is still defined by.
Not the least of this very readable book's main virtues is that it tells us so much about the country that created the BBC as well as the public service broadcaster itself... a book that is both hugely entertaining and wise.
[Seaton] writes in prose that would have impressed Orwell himself. Unsentimental, robust, devoid of jargon, and clear as hell, Pinkoes and Traitors demands what Orwell himself asks of us: to stand outside. Look around. Assess. And tell it like it is in an English as direct as you can. Like Orwell's work, Pinkoes and Traitors makes you walk out into the world and see the familiar anew.
The best argument I have read in favour of the BBC.
This is a rich and essential history.
Essential reading for anyone concerned, in any way, about the future of the BBC.