Cut to ribbons

I’m a pretty big fan of the BBC, they make some quality shows and are the best channel for news in the UK. However, they are capable of some major gaffes, the continued presence of Mark Lawrenson on their football coverage for one.

But recently they did something that was just stupid.

Graham Norton, who hosts a Friday night talk show wore a World AIDS Day ribbon, as did his guests Colin Farrell, Sharon Osbourne, Jeremy Clarkson and Jo Brand (I’m a tad gutted I missed it now, because that sounds like a pretty interesting mix).

Norton with his guests- Colin Farrell, Sharon Osbourne, Jeremy Clarkson and Jo Brand

Norton with his guests- Colin Farrell, Sharon Osbourne, Jeremy Clarkson and Jo Brand

But now the Beeb has had words with Norton and the production company for breaching corporation guidelines, which state that they have to remain independent of “government initiatives, campaigners, charities and their agendas”.

Except, of course, for poppies.

Here’s the thing, I get that the Beeb can’t have political stuff, because that could be seen as giving a specific party unfair bias, but come on, you’re warning someone over an AIDS day ribbon! Are you afraid you’re going to upset the pro-AIDS groups?

This is a dreadful disease around which there is still a lack of knowledge and stigma around. A high profile show with a wide audience attempts to bring attention to it, in a small, understated way and this is criticized.

As for the whole Poppy Appeal being exempt thing, that leaves a sour taste in the mouth. The BBC effectively forces it’s on screen talent to wear poppies out of fear that the tabloids will attack the corporation and it’s stars for not being patriotic enough. Well, sod that, but I think the AIDS campaign is a damn sight more w0rthy of endorsement than the Poppy Appeal.

I ain’t having a go at the poppy folks, it’s a fine campaign and serves to remind us of the horror and waste of war, but it has been hijacked of late, into a jingoistic showing off competition to prove who’s more patriotic. It’s not about glorifying the armed forces, it’s about tribute to those poor bastards who were used up by those organizations and left to die in the mud.

At best, it should help those who have served reintegrate into civilian life or aid the families of those who have died, it should not be used to score political points or beat the war drum. Men and women gave their lives in conflicts to ensure the freedoms we enjoy, and to see something intended to pay tribute to them corrupted into some kind of measurement of patriotism is truly disgusting. If you don’t want to wear a poppy it doesn’t make you less British or less respectful to the war dead, it’s just your personal choice. And that choice should be accepted and not cause vile hatred to spill forth at those who choose not to.

Someone electing not to wear a poppy is infinitely preferable to having everyone forced to pin one on just to satisfy the tabloid hacks and armchair reactionaries.

And don’t get me started on this horribly manipulative advert I saw earlier this year. It is the first recorded incident of a charity advert making me think “Oh, f**k off!”

poppy guilt

The poppy appeal is far more controversial and divisive than World AIDS Day, and pretty high profile already. Yet a sadly ignored disease which effects millions around the world isn’t allowed on prime time TV.

I hate to say it, but the Beeb are wrong on this one.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.


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