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
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
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.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable