The BBC is moving out of Television Centre – the 1960 building is to be sold – and moving into a new building on Salford Quays. Cue a feeding frenzy of Beeb bashing by the usual suspects from the dunghill that is Grubstreet. But now the move is getting serious, with office furniture being selected and ordered, so that frenzy is ratcheting up a few notches.
Because the office furniture includes chairs, and these are no ordinary chairs, but swivel chairs. But, so what? Ah well. The Beeb has made the mistake of seconding one employee to give guidance on which chair to select, and then how to set them up. This has sent the why-oh-why brigade into a suitably righteous froth.
Although the Beeb has not hired any additional staff for this task, that isn’t how it’s being reported. “BBC employs ‘chair champion’ in Salford HQ” tells the Maily Telegraph, while the Express reports that “BBC Employs ‘Head Of Seats’ To Choose Its Luxury Swivel Chairs”. Over at the Mail, it’s “The BBC appoints a Chair Champion”.
Sad to say, this is a routine excursion into Gerald Ratner territory. The Beeb has had to point out that it “does not employ individual ‘chair champions’”, and moreover has observed “We don’t use the title ‘chair champion’, but it seems to be doing the rounds”. Selecting and setting up chairs is part of the induction process at Media City. Boring but true.
But this more prosaic reality has been drowned out by a wave of whingeing from the usual dubious convocation of, well, armchair experts. Tory MP John Whittingdale was the Telegraph’s more upmarket pundit, telling that “This is the kind of thing that risks making the BBC a laughing stock”.
The Mail went one better, by inventing “Another BBC employee” to comment, then wheeling out (but not on a swivel chair) Tory MP Philip Davies to say “you couldn’t make it up”, before he was thankfully wheeled away again. Davies is followed by the leader of Salford Council’s Tory group, telling “I can’t believe we need to teach people how to sit on their chairs”. Her party holds just 11 of the 59 seats right now.
And no example of Beeb bashing would be complete without input from one of the non-job holders at the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance, although only the Express was desperate enough to quote them. But one source was not quoted by any of the three nationals running their knocking copy today.That source was the Manchester Evening News, whose exclusive from yesterday afternoon is what is being churned over today. Cut-and-paste-tastic!