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Creator Of Yes Minister Launches Blistering Attack On The ‘Bias-Ridden’ BBC

The co-creator of Yes Minister has launched a blistering attack on the BBC – saying it is biased on issues such as climate change. Sir Antony Jay, who worked as a BBC producer before writing the hit comedy, called for a dramatic downsizing of the corporation, saying it had simply become too powerful.


Attack: Sir Antony Jay worked as a BBC producer before writing the hit comedy Yes Minister

Attack: Sir Antony Jay worked as a BBC producer before writing the hit comedy Yes Minister


In an attack on his former paymasters, he said he would scrap all its radio stations except Radio 4, and all TV stations other than BBC One.

And he claimed that the values of the organisation were opposed to the principle of private profit and the monarchy.

Sir Antony was speaking at the launch of a report by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which claims the BBC is biased over climate change.


‘If you believe in a free country and a free press, why do we have a state broadcasting system at all?’ he said.

‘Or why do we not have a state newspaper with £4billion spent on it and associated magazines all published by the state?

‘Why is the BBC so huge, why does in dominate the nation’s communication?

‘It is the biggest communications organisation in the world.’

He went on: ‘I do think it does some very good things and I’m not actually in favour of abolishing it – not at the moment anyway. I do ask why it dominates the media so much.

‘Why do we not simply have one BBC television channel, one speech radio channel – what more do we need?’

This week he wrote the foreword for a report on climate change bias in the BBC.

Hit cast: Yes Minister stars Fowlds, Hawthorne and Eddington

Hit cast: Yes Minister stars Derek Fowlds, Nigel Hawthorne and Paul Eddington

'Too powerful': Si Antony Jay said the Corporation should be downsized

‘Too powerful’: Sir Antony Jay said the Corporation should be downsized

On Thursday, he said that when he was there, BBC people tended to be anti-industry and saw private profit as distasteful. Many were anti-monarchy, and were suspicious of the Army.

He said: ‘What I have noticed is that it comes down to values, and the hardest thing to change in an organisation is its values.

‘And these values are behind the BBC’s view on global warming, which is everything the BBC didn’t like – it was about industry, profit, big corporations and that sort of thing.’ 

Sir Antony said the BBC would not be as large as it is if the broadcasting landscape had been designed now, rather than in the 1920s.

In the foreword he wrote to the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s report, he developed his theme of a slimmed-down BBC.

He wrote: ‘All its other mass of activities – publishing, websites, orchestras, digital channels, music and local radio stations – could be disposed of without any noticeable loss to the cultural life of the country, and the licence fee could probably be cut by two thirds. Could it happen?

‘As the economic squeeze tightens, the case for a drastic slimming down of the BBC gets stronger every day. Cash-strapped households might be glad of the extra £100 a year.’

Sir Antony admitted that when he was a BBC staffer, he ‘absorbed and expressed all the accepted BBC attitudes: hostility to, or at least suspicion of, America, monarchy, government, capitalism, empire, banking and the defence establishment; and in favour of the Health Service, state welfare, the social sciences, the environment and state education’.

Yes Minister and sequel Yes, Prime Minister, which Sir Antony wrote with Jonathan Lynn, were hits in the 1980s and a particular favourite of Margaret Thatcher.

They follow the ministerial career of Jim Hacker, played by Paul Eddington, and also star Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Derek Fowlds.

Sir Antony worked as a BBC producer and editor in the 1950s and 1960s, where he established the Tonight programme.