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Prejudice against rural people?

Sir Ian Botham may have been ambushed by the BBC, but now is the time to change the broadcaster’s “prejudice against rural people” says
Robin Scott

Sir Ian Botham

Cricketing hero and champion charity fundraiser Sir Ian Botham has broad enough shoulders to shrug off the kind of brick bats bowled at him during a recent BBC Radio 5 Live interview. Even so, I feel sorry for him.

He was invited to talk about his generous offer to donate 10,000 gamebirds and £40,000 of his own money to feed nutritous ready-to-cook casseroles and curries to people living on the poverty line in Britain. The meals would be made and distributed by The Country Food Trust charity.

But instead of explaining how the scheme would work and why he felt moved to help in this way, Sir Ian ended up fielding a series of anti-shooting questions that had nothing to do with the food initiative.

The Countryside Alliance described the biased interview as “quite extraordinary”. It lambasted the broadcasting company saying the programme was “an indictment of the BBC’s integrity (which raised) significant questions about (its) engagement with the animal rights agenda as promoted by its own presenter Chris Packham, amongst others.”

Understandably Sir Ian was furious at being “ambushed” in this fashion and has threatened to boycott the BBC in future.
I hope he doesn’t. Now isn’t the time to pull up the drawbridge; now’s the time to set up a dialogue with the company and change what the Countryside Alliance says is “clear evidence of an institutional prejudice against rural people in some parts of the corporation. The BBC can no longer duck and dive this accusation. Very soon it will be forced to live up to its enshrined editorial policy: ‘Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest. We are committed to achieving the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences’.”

Ditch Chris Packham?

Really? If that’s the case they can set the ball rolling by ditching the likes of Chris Packham and replacing presenters of his ilk with others who, in the Beebs own words, are “independent, impartial and honest”. Or maybe not. Think about it.

Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, so why not team Mr Packham with, say, an equally knowledgeable naturalist-cum-gamekeeper to offer a truly balanced, honest, presentation of countryside conservation, and the vital role fieldsports play in it? Or better still, throw Sir Ian into the equation from time to time. Can you imagine it…

“Oh look,” says Mr Packham in that hushed voice of his, “the song thrush gollies we’ve been watching all week are being predated by a beautiful magpie.” To which our Knight of the Realm replies: “Don’t be daft you big girl’s blouse, the little buggers have been killed and eaten by a black and white rat…”

Viewing figures would soar. I guarantee it.