For all its enemies, BBC is likely to be with us for many years to come

BBC Broadcasting House in London

BBC Broadcasting House in London - Credit: Getty Images

Delving into the past with Chris Hallam 

Chris Hallam

Chris Hallam - Credit: Chris Hallam

This year will witness a number of key anniversaries in the history of broadcasting.

For example, it will mark the centenary of the creation of the BBC. then called the ‘British Broadcasting Company’ in 1922.

The organisation changed its name to the British Broadcasting Corporation in 1927.

2022 will also see the 40th birthday of Channel 4 which started in 1982 and, perhaps less significantly, the 25th anniversary of the creation of Channel 5 in 1997.

It is difficult to exaggerate the effect the existence of the BBC has had on British life during the last century.

Indeed, it saddens me to see the corporation so often come coming under attack these days, usually from elements of the government or from rival media outlets such as the tabloid press.

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Much of the BBC’s output, after all, remains excellent.

The nature documentaries of Sir David Attenborough have been acclaimed throughout the world, while news programmes like Radio 4’s Today and TV’s Panorama and Newsnight are similarly synonymous with excellence.

The Archers. The Line of Duty. The Office. Pride and Prejudice. I May Destroy You. Happy Valley. Doctor Who. Killing Eve. Luther. Dad’s Army. This Country. Peaky Blinders. Fleabag. EastEnders. Casualty. Inside No 9.

Whether its drama, comedy, news, sport or something else, the number of high-quality programmes the BBC has produced and which it continues to produce over the years has remained very impressive indeed.

Speaking personally, the BBC was responsible for my all-time favourite show - Blackadder II - and has been behind quite a few of my other top programmes such as Our Friends in the North, Fawlty Towers and I’m Alan Partridge.

In my earliest childhood, I lapped up the likes of Postman Pat and Play School.

As a teenager in the 1990s, I enjoyed Australian imports on the Beeb like Neighbours and long-running dramas like Grange Hill and Byker Grove.

As with most viewers, not everything I have watched over the years has been particularly highbrow.

I have a definite weakness for quizzes like Richard Osman’s House of Games and panel shows like Would I Lie To You.

Like the NHS, the BBC is one of those things that make me truly feel proud to be British.

I firmly believe the BBC acts as a positive, stabilising influence within society which has prevented us from taking some of the wrong turns other nations have taken. It is not perfect, of course: nothing is. But whatever its failings, there is no doubt at all we would be immeasurably poorer without it.

Sadly, the BBC has always had its enemies.

Many of these exist within the British press, a medium which sometimes seems jealous of the BBC’s wide influence.

In truth, the BBC clearly works very hard to retain a position of political neutrality and despite the odd, inevitable, occasional lapse, I think most people would agree it largely succeeds in achieving this.

Perhaps more troubling are the attacks on the corporation which come from the government itself.

These attacks have grown more desperate in recent months as the Conservatives have sought to divert attention away from their own mounting problems which include concerns over their handling (or mishandling) of the pandemic as well as the role of officials in the ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal.

The BBC licence fee has been threatened and Channel 4 is now in danger of being privatised.

All we can really hope is that these tactics don’t succeed.

For at the end of the day, the BBC is a long established and essential feature of British life.

It will surely be with us for many decades yet, enduring long after the likes of Boris Johnson and Nadine Dorres are gone and forgotten.