Friday, 25 October 2013

By Any Means: yet another BBC drama series reinforces the corporation's basic "Tories Are Scum" message

I’ve just caught up with the fourth episode of the BBC’s new crime series, By Any Means, which features a clandestine team of coppers who are tasked by a senior police officer with punishing evil-doers who have slipped through the criminal justice system net (so only another million or so episodes to go, then).

Essentially, the gang are involved in sanctioned vigilantism. They’re all young and smart and sexy and incredibly intelligent (like most police squads, I imagine) and, yes, it’s brought to us by the same team who made Hustle, only they’ve left out old and ugly actors this time round. Nobody has been revealed to be gay yet, but it’s only a matter of time, I suspect. On the whole, it's jolly good fun.

I subconsciously monitor any BBC drama series I watch for political bias. It usually takes about ten minutes to detect hidden – or more often, overt – messages. But it took By Any Means four episodes to proudly reveal that it really despises Tories and thinks anyone who admires Margaret Thatcher is an evil, heartless crook. A former Tory MP (who wears a bow tie and is a bit of an ass) and his far more intelligent former bank director wife have set up a charity for child victims of the Syrian civil war. The three million pounds sitting in the charity’s bank account has disappeared. The police know the couple stole it – they claim crooks hacked into the account. As the episode opens, two detectives are being dismissed from the force for harassing the couple (as we all know, the police are only too willing to take severe disciplinary action against coppers who deliberately tell lies about Tory politicians).

I decided to ignore all that and go with the flow - I've enjoyed every other episode. But then our intrepid team, in order to get the wicked couple out of their house long enough to bug it, arrange for them to be invited to a “Remembering Margaret” function. In the car on the way to the event, the former MP claims he doesn’t know why he’s been invited as “I was never one of them”. I’m pretty sure this ambiguous line was inserted as a legal fig-leaf rather than to imply that the chap hadn’t been a Tory MP – he goes on to fantasise about a possibly recall by The Party. (If this hateful creep is meant to be a noble Labourite, I’m Burmese.)

The episode ends, subtly, with the idiot husband and Cruella de Vil caught red-handed clutching handfuls of the stolen loot. Subtle it wasn’t. I was almost surprised not see the message “Tories Are Scum – Vote Labour” flashed up over the end credits.

I know I shouldn’t be shocked by the BBC inserting this sort of crude ant-Conservative propaganda into drama series – it’s been going on for decades. But for God’s sake – doesn’t no one of importance at the corporation feel the slightest twinge of shame at allowing left-wing dramatists to insult the memory of one of this country’s greatest ever political leaders while thumbing their noses at right-wing license-fee payers with this sort of witlessly blatant propaganda?

I think I already know the answer to my question.

If you're in Britain, you can watch the relevant episode here - and please let me know if you think I'm being unfair: I worked for the BBC for years, so political balance is part of my DNA, as the corporation's senior executives keep assuring us.

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