BBC Director General Mark Thompson surprised BBC staff this evening by announcing a surprise move of the corporation’s headquarters: from December, all management will operate out of a new, purpose-built building in Tunbridge Wells. Mr Thompson described the move as ‘exciting and necessary’ and praised the architectural innovation: exterior walls will be completely transparent, with large magnetic letters that can be rearranged into letters of complaint by local residents. Describing the plans, Mr Thompson said:
We’re clearly out of touch with public sentiment, so we’re going to run all our programming decisions past the most important people: the man in the Tunbridge Wells street. We’ll set up drop-in centres to canvas local opinion, and we won’t do anything without the say-so of the Tunbridge Wells public. They do pay the license fee, after all. This will allow us to be ‘brave and creative’ in our future broadcasting.
The move comes after a turbulent week for the corporation, and follows Mr Thompson’s comments on the BBC’s intentions to pay less to its most popular entertainers – statements widely interpreted as being directed at the tabloid press. Mr Thompson confirmed this:
We at the BBC were faced with a stark decision. We could stand by our presenters, explaining that they made a mistake and would be reprimanded in an appropriate, grown-up manner. We would also point to the history and character of the pair, point out that they were showing appropriate remorse, and perhaps mention that the media hysteria is being driven by those who despise the BBC. In short, we could have grown a pair. But that was too hard, so we’ve instead decided to prostrate ourselves in front of the Daily Mail. This is now our primary goal.
Asked how this would affect the BBC’s investigations into the matter, Mr Thompson said:
It’s obvious to everyone that our comedians went too far, although anyone listening to the show could quite easily see that it happened without any malice or intentional cruelty on the part of our presenters. However, we’re sure Tunbridge Wells residents will confirm this pales in comparison to the outrage felt by people who write us letters. We’re still not clear on how this pre-recorded show came to be broadcast – perhaps someone failed to realise the seriousness of the situation, as in hindsight it’s obvious the Prime Minister would need to get involved.
Tunbridge Wells residents are said to be delighted with the news, and have already established an action committee to “go apeshit the moment Jonathan Ross completes his suspension and says ‘cock’ on BBC1”.
In related news, a study by Oxford University sociologists has quantifiably established that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand are the only participants to end the week with any class or dignity1. Researchers say this is due to the manner of their apologies and their general handling of the incident, which has seen the BBC and much of the UK print media ’embarrass themselves beyond belief’.
- although an appendix notes considerable sympathy for Lesley Douglas [↩]