Nicholas Lezard: If you could see the BBC now, John ...

The Corporation feels it's at risk, and no one is standing up to the bullying

Share
Related Topics

Dear John Peel, Forgive the impertinence of my writing to you care of the afterlife, but I thought you'd better know about what's been going on down here lately.

The bad news is that there are some stories going around that the BBC, anxious to make cuts for some reason, are going to close down 6Music, its main platform for independent, left-field music – or, in other words, the kind of stuff you used to champion, to the lasting influence of our cultural (or indeed counter-cultural) heritage. Now, if this may not quite be the disaster that some people are claiming, there is no getting away from the idea that it's part of a process of artistic impoverishment which is a now inescapable part of the national climate.

6Music was never as influential as you were; this is down simply to its relative unavailability as a digital-only station. But it does its bit. It is as if the BBC thought: well, if this music is going to exist deliberately on the margins, then let it be marginalised. (One horrible irony is that the only good thing about the forthcoming compulsory digitalisation of radio – a development which we were once, not so long ago, assured would never happen – would have meant an enormous increase in 6Music's reach. Now it looks as though we will be getting the worst of both worlds.)

But although 6Music might have been somewhat isolated, it was still a good deed in a naughty world (with the exception of the moronic DJ George Lamb – and even so, rebarbative though he might be, at least he plays the odd good track from time to time); one got the impression that nearly all its DJs had been informed by your discerning eclecticism. Some of them had even been inspired by your beautifully understated and ironic manner.

But the corporation you worked for now perceives itself to be under threat, and from what I have heard of the higher BBC management, from people who have worked close to them recently (I am afraid I cannot name names), I do not expect them to be the kind of people who will stand up to bullying, should any bullying be in the offering. It does look, in fact, as though they are deciding to kowtow even before they have been asked to.

So, in a way, it is horribly fitting that it is 6Music which is facing the chop. The virtues of the independent music sector always involved the courage to take risks, to go against the prevailing wisdom, and to question the status quo. Innovation was its raison d'être; and these are precisely the virtues which, being least amenable to control, are most despised and feared by the controllers. (That the Asian Network is also facing closure, at a time when you could say it is needed most, tells another grim story. Somehow I don't think you'd be very happy about that either.)

And so once more, as when you started out, it is going to become hard for someone with open ears to help us expand our musical horizons. The net can only do so much; what it cannot do is provide for us a voice sane and unafraid, broadcasting itself to a nation, all at once, saying: Try this, you might just like it.

n.lezard@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Executive

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Retail Buyer / Ecommerce Buyer

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working closely with the market...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - CAD Software Solutions Sales

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A reputable company, famed for ...

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Education Editor: This shocking abuse of teachers should be taken seriously

Richard Garner
Brand loyalty: businessmen Stuart Rose (pictured with David Cameron at the Conservative conference in 2010) was among the signatories  

So, the people who always support the Tories... are supporting the Tories? Has the world gone mad?

Mark Steel
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?