Review: Invisible earnings and visible yearnings

WHEN SHE means business Mary Goldring talks in very short sentences. Urgent sentences. Purposeful. Incisive. Then occasionally, as if this is all getting a bit terse for her, there is a sudden blossom of purple prose. In her report on the BBC for The Mary Goldring Audit last night she was on fine form. 'Cat-cautious behind the scenes - the alleyways of a temporary town,' she word-daubed, as the camera watched her tip-toeing through the Outside Broadcast cables at Wimbledon.

The smack of Dylan Thomas brought to mind those GPO documentaries of the Thirties, all self-conscious poesy and didactic gravity. It got even worse later when she went to look behind the scenes at the Nine O'Clock News: 'Teams primed to move fast and smooth as mechanics at a pit stop . . . The race begins against time,' she intoned over a picture of a man in a jumper ambling down some stairs, '. . . now running on undiluted adrenalin . . . bringing the world to Britain . . . half visionary, half schoolmaster.' I hope it didn't embarrass the news team too much, but I have a feeling they're in for some teasing this morning.

Other BBC employees, however, will be smarting rather than blushing, having suffered one of those sharp little smacks that Goldring so enjoys doling out. 'You've been brainwashed, haven't you?' she said to John Birt after he had defended the BBC for fighting on so many fronts. On the whole he thought he hadn't, but then it wouldn't be brainwashing if the brainwashee knew about it. Her point (a good one) was that the BBC couldn't sensibly compete at every level with commercial broadcasters - because revenue remains the same as outgoings increase. His point (an understandable one) was that, if your revenue is dependent on public goodwill, you can't risk alienating anyone, an argument (for any brainwash theorists reading) that was instilled in BBC upper management long before John Birt.

The problem for the BBC is that there is no accountancy for taste - and unless you can find some way to place the organisation's invisible earnings on to the books (the national prestige it delivers, its provision of real choice, the indefinable bonds that form when 23 million people watch the same thing at the same time, even if it's ice-dance), the bottom line will always appear crazy or sentimental.

Goldring usually delights in slicing through such niceties but, though she suggested killing off Radio 3 (pointing out that the cost of a regular daytime listener is pounds 500), she was less icily confident here; I couldn't quite work out whether she thought Producer Choice was a good idea or not. She ended with some pertinent remarks about freeing the BBC to exploit and profit from its own talent but you suspected that, if she were made Director- General tomorrow, she would end up breaking her fingernails on the Gordian knot, like others before her.

On Saturday night, Arena gave you the collected home-movies of Derek Jarman, which wasn't quite as grim as it sounded. For a lot of the time, it's true, you were thinking, 'Oh well, I suppose you had to be there,' subject to the peculiar tedium of watching strangers have a good time. But Jarman's death had added to the sweet melancholy that silent Super-8 can achieve, the way that home movies allow you to recall past contentment without being able to retrieve it.

Jarman's imagination also seemed to respond to the traditional deficiencies of the medium. In his Face to Face interview with Jeremy Isaacs, shown again recently, he moved about so much that he made a static studio camera blur and wobble like a hand-held. Here he took jerk and flare and 'wrong' exposures and gave them emotional value. Even the tendency of people to prat about when a camera is pointed at them became something more durable - as when an infatuated lens chased Tilda Swinton around the topiary, a lark which slowly turned into a dance. I doubt if there will be enough viewers to please the accountants but this one was glad to have seen it.

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
Crime watch: Cara Delevingne and Daniel Brühl in ‘The Face of an Angel’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
News
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
News
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
news
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

    Lobster has gone mainstream

    Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

    Paul Scholes column

    Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss