It is time this blog took a moment properly to remember Leonard Nimoy, he of the suave, non-emotional manner and uninflected voice. Come to think of it, he was a bit like a precursor of Stephen Hawking, voice-wise. I never was a Trekkie; in fact I considered Star Trek to be a joke, but you have to admit its aims were laudable. Though Kirk was undeniably male and white, he had a multi-ethnic, bi-gendered (is that even a word? Should it be ‘ambi-gendered’?) team which even crossed species to include the alien Mr Spock. I can’t remember and I don’t care which planet Spock came from, but even as a child I was aware that there was something very forward-looking in the way Kirk’s team was assembled and in the values they espoused. Gene Roddenberry’s aim, according to Wikipedia, was not only to tell a space story like a Western or an Odyssey, but also to explore the moral issues of the age. In this aim he was apparently not entirely open with the TV bosses.
I bet he wasn’t. Can’t have morality interfering with advertising, can we?
Now, a propos of this I am concerned about the future of the BBC. It is rumoured that they are thinking of taking most of their content off the iplayer and whilst this would be a loss to us as a family – what with not having a TV licence – it would not be nearly as great a loss as that of the Beeb itself. We must have a public-service broadcaster which is not accountable to anyone but its viewers, otherwise the freedom to make, say, challenging documentaries or programmes of minority interest, will disappear.
Take the recent fly-on-the-wall series about Parliament, ‘Inside the Commons.’ This did exactly what it said on the tin; it explored every aspect of the running of the House, from the gospel-singing tea-lady Gladys to the role of the Speaker; from the Father of the House to the menders of the clock; from the crumbling brickwork to the division lobby, from the work of the whips to the experiences of total newcomers. There was a special focus on new women – the House now has a nursery and has consigned all-night sittings to history, and a good thing too. It’s fashionable nowadays to disparage MP’s as a bunch of lazy, corrupt opportunists – and at times this series did as much to uphold as to dispel that image; yet it did show a more human face to people we are used to seeing in an official light. I didn’t expect to find it that interesting, but I was totally gripped by it. It was thorough, non-sensationalist, impartial and generally in the best traditions of documentaries.
How many of these would get made if the Beeb was funded by advertising?
That’s enough of me now. So as a final tribute to Nimoy, I shall sign off with –
Live Long and Prosper.