(All schools mentioned in photo captions below are private “independent” schools)
In news, current affairs and sport, the percentage of privately educated presenters, reporters and interviewers at the BBC is much higher than the percentage of people who attended a private school in the UK. If all visible BBC employees were competent and intelligent their respective school backgrounds would not be important. However, some of these posh boys and girls are well-equipped to do their jobs, some are just about adequate and many are inadequate.
For any job in any profession, the school an applicant attended should play no part in her or his suitability for the post. But, in some BBC departments, the best candidates for a job have not always been the successful candidates because the names of the schools on the CVs and/or applications have played their part.
The BBC has woolly excuses for its recruitment bias. It claimed (correctly) that a good education is preferable; however, the percentage of privately educated people with university degrees is lower than the percentage of privately educated successful candidates for public BBC roles. A good degree and some good relevant experience are useful components of a CV; the school attended should carry no importance.
How rarely is a real regional accent heard on BBC news and current affairs? Occasionally, a Morningside accent is heard, or the softest of Welsh of Irish tilts. But, Geordie, Liverpudlian, Glaswegian, Mancunian, Brummie, the great variety of Yorkshire and Lancashire accents, West Country, Cockney and many other London accents are all absent among the presenters of national news and current affairs programmes.
Bizarrely, even on BBC Radio 5 Live’s sports coverage there are a plethora of posh voices pretending to have knowledge of sport.
Why is attendance at a fee-paying school a necessity to speak on the radio about football, rugby, tennis, motor-racing, etc?
Is it the voice that appeals to the recruiters at BBC sport? Decades ago, there used to be a phenomenon of “the BBC voice” for broadcast on radio and TV. This voice was accentless and spoken clearly. Today’s privately educated 5 live voices sound as one, a screechy harsh sound that is unkind on the ears; it is definitely not similar to the traditional “BBC voice.”
At private schools pupils are taught how to dominate conversations via the use of loud voices, rude interruptions, distractions and vacuous verbosity. These characteristics are displayed in job interviews because, for some jobs at the BBC, such behaviour is considered to be a necessity for an employee in a public-facing role. These anti-skills obscure a lack of talent, a lack of knowledge and a lack of intelligence.
Intelligent pupils at any school will develop whatever political position that suits them. Less intelligent pupils are more likely to be persuaded by the education they receive. Pliable students can be easily led.
For many employers who are seeking employees with a restricted political outlook, there would be more confidence that a private school will have ensured that an intellectually challenged candidate will fit the required restriction. There is greater political safety for an employer choosing a privately educated candidate for a job.
Understandably, the BBC, in constant fear of the Tories’ threats to destroy it, would favour a less capable but more politically trustworthy candidate for a BBC job over a better-skilled but more politically independent and informed candidate.
The skewed policy of recruitment has the obvious consequence of exclusion. The exclusion exists not only in recruitment but also in promotion.
A second consequence is an unnecessary variation in the quality of the presenting and reporting. Much of the BBC’s news and sport presentation is very good but too great a quantity is very pedestrian, contentless and inept.
The special courses at the private schools on how to talk incessantly in a pseudo confident loud voice are useless when critical analysis and imparting facts and information are needed. It’s like teaching a dog a single trick which is to bark loudly.
There is no need for government legislation or imposed quotas to solve the biased recruitment policy at BBC news and sport. All that is needed is more intelligence by the corporation in its recruitment. Being impressed by the name of a school is a stupid reaction.
It is an issue that can be fixed easily without fuss.