BBC programming at its best

The BBC has received a drubbing recently. The howls of disapproval have led to an apology for a range of underhand practices – subterfuge like that of the footage of HM the Queen being edited purposefully to portray her as capricious.

So, for the BBC-afficionados of you who are hoping for something better, it’s programmes like tonight’s Newsnight (the BBC television’s news analysis programme) that get the thumbs up.

In fact, tonight’s programme was superb. I’d recommend a wide distribution. You can watch it here*.

The whole programme was a ‘special’, dedicated to the future of Islam. A few informing, historicaly-grounded, and pre-prepared articles were followed by debate. A key theme discussed was that Islam could be going through its own ‘Reformation’. Muslims across the world may be asking questions about – and struggling with the tensions between – notions of theocracy and democracy, and the relationship of mosque and state.

Invited guests included Benazir Bhutto, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan; Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, speaking from the Middle East because he has been banned from re-entering Britain; and, Maryam Namazie, who belongs to the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain.

I think the programme was so good because the debate engendered was genuinely open-ended: Gavin Esler, the host, showed himself to be a debate facilitator of virtuosity – fielding responses, suggesting connections, being firm, and with little of his own agenda. Maybe he should be sent to the Middle East as an international peace envoy…

* Update

I’ve just seen this comment from another viewer – I concur!

77. At 11:30 PM on 25 Jul 2007, Jon wrote:
Congratulations on an outstanding piece of reporting to examine the strategic aspects of Western and Islamic issues, and in such a balanced way! We need more exposure of these matters to provide context behind day-to-day occurrences. Well done The Beeb!

* Update x2 (3.40pm London time, 27.7.07)

I don’t know what happened to the programme at BBC Online. It had been privileged with some fancy graphic design, and was a focal point on the Newsnight homepage. Possibly there’s been an executive decision to bury it… You should still be able to find it, though – now in the right hand ‘Recommended’ pane, called ‘Newsnight – the Battle for Islam’, in the BBC Player when it opens up after clicking my link? (As an aside, I wonder whether the programme could be better titled, the Future (or Futures) for Islam? ‘Battle’ is too loaded, from my point of view…)

* Update x3 (9.50pm London time, 27.7.07)

Aah, the programme’s prominence has now been restored. Good – don’t know whether this had anything to do with me attempting to lobby Peter Barron, the Newsnight’s editor! He apparently liked this post so much he linked to it from a Newsnight facebook discussion board; I wonder what led him here? There are, after all, so many billions of sentient beings blogging about Newsnight, everyday and as we speak – from the surface of this planet, and probably from the Great Beyond too. (Yes. …OK – maybe.) Maybe it was the word ‘drubbing’ in the first sentence…

* Update x4 (11.05am London time, 28.7.07)

It turns out this post has become well visited. For the whole story, see ‘An enchanted few days in the life of a blog, this blog‘.

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One Response to “BBC programming at its best”

  1. This thinning road-cum-field V « Sumptuous! Says:

    […] Newsnight didn’t give the issues more air time, which they deserved – good stuff, but not BBC brogramming at its best […]

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