BBC may not exist in 10 years, says Nadine Dorries in attack on ‘elitist’ broadcaster

Culture secretary says corporation full of people ‘whose mum and dad worked there’

Adam Forrest
Monday 04 October 2021 16:24
<p>Culture secretary Nadine Dorries speaking at Tory conference fringe event in Manchester </p>

Culture secretary Nadine Dorries speaking at Tory conference fringe event in Manchester

The BBC may not exist in a decade’s time, the new culture secretary Nadine Dorries has suggested as she took aim at its “elitist” attitude and “lack of impartiality”.

The cabinet minister claimed she did not want a war with the broadcaster, but said it would have to agree to changes before the government agrees to the next licence fee settlement from April 2022.

“The perspective of the BBC is that they will get a settlement fee and then we will talk about how they are going to change,” Ms Dorries told a Conservative Party conference fringe event.

The minister added: “My perspective is, tell me how you are going to change and then you get the settlement fee.”

Asked whether the licence fee would still be compulsory in 10 or 20 years, she said: “Will the BBC still be here in 10 years? I don’t know … It is a very competitive environment at the moment.”

Ms Dorries, who has only been in her role since September’s reshuffle, said she already had “an interesting meeting” with BBC director-general Tim Davie and chairman Richard Sharp.

The culture secretary highlighted a whole series of issues she had with the broadcaster – including a lack of working-class diversity and perceived political bias.

“We’re having a discussion about how the BBC can become more representative of the people who pay the licence fee … not just people whose mum and dad worked there,” she said.

“It’s about recognising that access and lack of impartiality are part of your problem,” she added, claiming that “group-think” at the corporation had excluded people from working-class backgrounds.

“Northwest, Northeast, Yorkshire – if you have got a regional accent in the BBC it doesn’t go down particularly well,” she said. “They talk about lots to do with diversity but they don’t talk about kids from working-class backgrounds and that’s got to change.”

Asked how to address that, she said: “It’s not about quotas, it’s just about having a more fair approach and a less elitist and a less snobbish approach as to who works for you.”

Ms Dorries said the path from a poor background to the top of a career in the media or the arts had now “completely disappeared”.

She added: “If you want to do that today you need a double-barrelled name, you need to have gone to a private or a public school or your mum needs to know someone, or your dad needs to know someone, or you need to have a connection at the BBC.”

Speaking at an event hosted by the Telegraph’s Chopper’s Politics podcast, the culture secretary also dismissed suggestions that a woman should replace Daniel Craig as James Bond.

“Why do people think that when a man gets tired of a certain pair of shoes, maybe a woman should fill them? Let’s create a whole new role for a woman.”

Ms Dorries added that her favourite author as a child was the “very un-PC” Enid Blyton.

Although Blyton has been criticised for racism and xenophobia in her books, Ms Dorries said they should not be censored. “Leave it, because that’s our heritage.”

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