Notebook: Thought for the day: just make it snappy

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The Independent Online
AH, yes, Birt's BBC. The shaving of Thought for the Day by 30 seconds; the privatisation of Gardeners' Question Time, with exciting ideas for a revamp, including one that would have the panellists addressing audiences from a specially constructed travelling potting shed. Great concept for radio.

Meanwhile, I hope Jonathan Dimbleby, Chris Patten and families are having a nice time at their holiday villa in Umbria. They are very close, Jonathan and Chris: this, apparently, is their third family holiday together. They see quite a bit of each other the rest of the year, too, since Jonathan has sold the idea to the BBC of making an in-depth study of Patten's Hong Kong sway, to be shown after the 1997 handover and to be entitled The Last Governor. Filming has started, and will no doubt include the pounds 550,000 being spent on Government House - including, according to Harpers & Queen, pounds 172,000 on a pink marble floor - prior to giving it to the Chinese. Any suggestion, though, that Jonathan's film could be less than impartial would clearly be both unfair and a complete misapprehension of the spirit of Birtism.

Actually, I think the cutting of Thought for the Day is a good thing. In fact, I think it should be cut to 30 seconds, ample time to put one's message across. And to show how, I asked several experts for their Thought in 50 words, the rough equivalent of 30 seconds.

First in was David Icke, former goalkeeper, television presenter and religious thinker. David didn't hang around: 'Status quo including religion equals mind control. Need to reject it and think for ourselves. All consciousness eternal. Creation made up of frequencies. Negative consciousness. Imbalance on earth equals violence, fear, destruction. Rebalancing under way equals fantastic weather, geological events, growing conflict, breakdown of old, so new can emerge. Planet Earth to survive. Humanity? Our choice.'

Next, David Pennal, the Dorset vicar who prays for Mike Atherton: '1946, aged 9, sent to the village for pre-EEC regulation cheese. The maggots were huge. The grocer smiled. 'Real cheese can move by itself.' Life is a gift, a breathtakingly serious thing; the eternal and vain question of who moves what has been with me ever since.' Ann Widdecombe, Employment minister and Catholic convert: 'Perhaps if we reversed the order so that we had a day for thought we would recognise that God gives time to man not man to God.'

Your thoughts, please, on the current state of the BBC, in 50 words. Winners can choose between a video or tape from the BBC's golden age or a copy of Extending Choice, Mr Birt's vision of the future. Or, if you have an Armani suit, we'll clean it.