Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Restoring the Balance

The Jackal
Day of the Jackal
Having been a bit critical of the BBC recently, it's only fair to mention I did get a bit of pleasure out of the corporation last night even if it has caused me not to be feeling especially sharp this morning. I was already pretty tired when I got home last night, but flicking on the box I saw the opening of the original Day of the Jackal film adaptation on the BBC. I'm afraid it's one of those films I just can't switch off.

I'm not a particular fan of classic films, but this is one of those where the only ways in which it has dated actually add a little extra to the film. The locations, general style of the the time, and even the cars inspire a kind of nostalgia for a time that was largely before my birth and certainly beyond my memories. The political situation that underpinned the plot has also drifted out of public consciousness, but in this it acts at least as a reminder, if not necessarily a history lesson. The shadowy OAS (Organisation de l'Armée Secrète) did indeed exist and plotted over 30 serious attempts to assassinate General De Gaulle, before French intelligence proved its case against a number of its leaders, who were executed.

There was a great multinational cast and production team, which certainly adds to the films atmosphere, especially in the style of the cinematography, which was very much in the French style. The plot shows British and French police and secret services operating in very different ways, but in both cases very effectively and co-operating fully to a common purpose.

It's odd that the original author is now so commonly vilified as a swivel eyed little-Englander xenophobe by supporters of the EU, for his simple crime of not believing that the EU provides the only model for cooperation in Europe. But of course Fredrick Forsyth is not a little Englander or xenophobe, no more than the late Sir James Goldsmith was; the terms are just a mindless smears from those on the other side of a debate whose reluctance to engage properly in that debate is the real scandal. It's a tactic we have see again in the last few days in the increasingly desperate attempts of the left to attach the label of racist to Boris Johnson, seeing it as Ken's best chance of a third term. Fortunately their attempts seem to be backfiring somewhat, as the puerile Compass group report seems to be being treated with the contempt it deserves.

Another interesting link to more current affairs appeared when I was looking a web page on the film, who linked to an old article on the BBC website, where Mr Forsyth suggested a simple, low-cost approach to making the type of identity theft featured in his novel very much more difficult. Very presciently though Mr Forsyth observes in the article:
"Of course, bureaucrats would think of some expensive way of solving the problem."

Source: BBC News

He was of course, we now know, entirely correct, though I'm not sure even he could have anticipated the full extent of the expense, or the liberty crushing nature of the ID Card and National Identity Register scheme.

As a final observation, writing this post has made me recall a time when daytime TV, which my work schedule sometime makes me end up watching, I seem to remember often featured some classic films in the morning slots, like the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes adaptations.

As I said up front, I'm not really a fan of many of these classic films, but that said they are head and shoulders above the diet of 'crap in the attic', 'crap at car boot sales', and 'watch me buy or redecorate my house' shows we face these days. I suspect there's some mindless 'original content' target in play somewhere down the line; if so it is not money well spent. Licence fee payers money shouldn't go on this kind of rubbish that is available in any quantity on commercial channels.

If that means filling up the gaps in the schedule with material from the archives - so be it; it is, in effect, tax payers money, and as such should only be spent as and when it is really necessary to fund the type of programming that the market would not otherwise offer.

Hmm, I wonder if there's a prize for tying the most disparate topics to a single apparently unrelated headline post.

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