The amount of money people are paid in relation to the job they do has been quite a hot topic over the past year or so; the public sector pay issue is the one that won’t go away, and the series of strikes by junior doctors last year shone a spotlight on the subject that has intensified in its glaring luminance via the row over the Government’s refusal to budge on its public sector pay cap. Doctors, nurses, fire fighters, the police – all deemed to be engaged in occupations that we all benefit from and would struggle without. Recent terrorist atrocities and disasters have brought their front-line contribution into focus yet again, though we do live in a country in which envy and mistrust of the successful is easily translated into resentment of the money such figures earn.

The Daily Mail, one of many Fleet Street titles owned by billionaires registered as non-doms who avoid paying millions in tax on an annual basis as a consequence, has nevertheless added to its long-time anti-BBC agenda of late by excitedly speculating on the pay of its biggest stars. Former Culture Secretary John ‘Whiplash’ Whittingdale was one of the motivators behind a new contractual obligation when negotiating the BBC’s Royal Charter a couple of years ago, one that specified the corporation would have to reveal the wages of its highest earners. Any who earned over £150,000 would be ‘named and shamed’.

I noticed the story was the Mail’s front cover today and will probably fill the first three or four pages of the rag tomorrow. It makes the assumption people care about these things, and to be fair, I’m pretty sure many do; I can’t say I’m one of them, but I don’t read the Daily Mail either. In comparison to what, say, Premier League footballers earn on a weekly basis, even the annual salaries of the BBC’s highest-paid employees probably seem like loose change. But, lest we forget, the BBC is financed by those of us who pay our TV licences, so it counts as a special case.

Michael Grade, a man whose working life has more or less been spent entirely in television, points out that revealing these BBC salaries will inflate those salaries thereafter as commercial competitors will now know how much to tempt stars away with; not that this will concern the Daily Mail, naturally. ‘If the Government was concerned the BBC wasn’t giving value for money,’ said Grade, ‘then they should have cut the licence fee, and not intervened in people’s privacy and their own private affairs about what they’re paid.’

There is undoubtedly a curtain-twitching, nosy neighbour element to this story; the need to know what other people are paid can either be used as yardstick to measure the chasm between Us and Them or can provide an excuse to start a rant about nurses using food banks. Of course, nurses using food banks has little to do with how much Chris Evans is paid and a tad more to do with the Westminster villagers who insisted revealing the pay of the top earners when renegotiating the BBC Charter; but this fact won’t register when the nation’s curtain-twitchers are rooting around through Gary Lineker’s pay-cheques.

As I’m one of the few people I know who does actually pay for a TV licence, what concerns me isn’t really what the BBC pays its big guns out of the licence fee – and that’s all we’re getting via these revelations, by the way; additional payments from independent production companies don’t count. For me, it’s more a question of getting my money’s worth; when Tony Hall waffles on about ‘culture’ and simultaneously slashes the budget for BBC4 or Radio 4 whilst lashing out God-knows how much on endless variations of ‘Bake Off’ and the rest of the talent show circus, I don’t feel I’m receiving value. Content is what irks me, not payment; by trying to out-ITV ITV, the BBC is failing to do what it’s there for. It’s supposed to educate and inform as well as entertain. And droning on about ‘diversity’ once again is not the response to these revelations I want.

I wouldn’t expect the likes of Graham Norton or Claudia Winkleman to receive the same amount of money for doing what they do as someone receiving benefits in Scunthorpe. The entertainment world has always rewarded its stars way out of proportion to what they actually do; that’s why those stars live in nice parts of the country and most of us don’t. Millions of Americans may have been struggling knee-deep in poverty during the Great Depression of the 1930s, yet Hollywood treated its celluloid heroes and heroines like kings and queens. They lived in immense luxury in comparison to those marooned in the Midwest dustbowls, but the population still crammed into the cinemas to watch them. Does the Mail imagine knowing that Chris Evans is paid £2.2 million will suddenly provoke a massive fall in his Radio 2 listening figures?

Some jobs are paid better than others; that’s a simple fact. Hedge-fund managers and top City people earn astronomical amounts by average standards, and politicians don’t do badly out of the various directorships they can boast on top of their MPs salaries, not to mention the fees they receive for public speaking; just ask Gideon. Are any of them doing work more valuable than fighting fires and crime or healing the sick? So what are we supposed to make of the fact that some of the most famous names in television and radio earn a lot as well? It can hardly have come as a great surprise to any of us. Anyone with ambition would obviously like to earn enough money to live in relative comfort and to not have to worry about paying the rent; but only a small handful of professions facilitate that ambition. It’s not great, but it’s life.

© The Editor


FreudHow is one to know which way to go? The Daily Mail is expressing shock and outrage where some dead celebrity’s past private life is concerned again, but as I share that shock and outrage – as I surely must – its online sidebar of shame is titillating me with words and pictures that contradict this shock and outrage. Apparently famous names I’m supposed to be interested in are being lionised as role models, yet are living lives that would appear to echo ‘the dissolute, libidinous path’ that the Freud family allegedly followed. I don’t know the right way to react. Condemn the past and condone the present when both are presented as morally-dubious, yet one is bad and one is good? Is that what I’m supposed to do? Please, Mr Dacre, tell me!

Sexy mini-dresses – eye-popping, braless and cleavage-baring; thigh-high boots and endless legs; slender frames, low-cut dresses, see-through dresses, gym-toned bodies, busty bodies. What is a man to do when confronted by these words over and over again? Perhaps take the Lucien Freud route? He ‘womanised on an industrial scale’ and it was ‘rumoured he had up to 40 children’; but that was wrong, wasn’t it? Or was it? If one of these sidebar heroes or heroines did so, would that constitute ‘a depraved scene’, which we must now refer to the late Clement Freud’s open marriage as? Mrs Freud supposedly seduced the brother of Will Self, the ‘oh-so opinionated fashionable writer and commentator’ as the Mail describes him without the hint of a sneer. That’s wrong, isn’t it? Or doesn’t that count if, say, the seducer was Kim Kardashian and the seduced was a star of ‘Geordie Shore’? The article about the Freud family is telling me one thing and the sidebar of shame is telling me something else.

Maybe if people who are dead and/or Jewish, who were intelligent, literate, witty and multi-talented and sired a successful (not to say envied) media dynasty enjoyed an unconventional sex life, that’s wrong; but if they’re thick, witless, narcissistic, Synth-faced twenty-first century sluts who measure their worth by the amount of ‘likes’ and re-tweets their selfies attract, it’s permissible. Have I got that right? It’s so hard to know when to unleash the outrage and when to conserve it.

Thanks to the Mail, however, I now know with absolute certainty that a man who was ‘larger than life’ and ‘one of the most popular and enduring figures in broadcasting and public life’ who wasn’t Jimmy Savile (despite Sir Jim receiving two honourable mentions in the hatchet job on Clement Freud, just so we know which ballpark we’re in) was actually someone who ‘groomed and abused’ one particular underage victim of his insatiable sexual appetite and ‘there could be thousands more’. Cooking, writing, gambling, ‘Just a Minute’, dog food commercials and being a Member of Parliament wouldn’t, one imagines, leave much time for sexually abusing thousands. The work-rate of past Paedos astounds me. Even current ones must cram a hell of a lot into a day – Get up, abuse a minor, wash & shave, abuse a minor, breakfast, abuse a minor, go to work, abuse a minor, get home, abuse a minor, dine, abuse a minor, go to bed, abuse a minor. Is that how it works? If one’s abuse list constitutes thousands, I guess so.

Of course, Sir Cliff Richard didn’t do that; thanks to that mighty bastion of financial thrift and cautious custodian of public funds the CPS, we have finally received confirmation he’s most definitely a non-Paedo, so we can’t add him to the list – probably because he’s still alive. Mind you, what with the stress and strain of living under a cloud of suspicion for a year or so, his health has probably suffered to the point whereby we won’t have too long to wait before the bachelor boy snuffs it and all the thousands he didn’t abuse can safely come forward and make appearances on what pass for documentaries on ITV. I’m so grateful the Daily Mail is there to guide me through the bewildering moral maze of the modern world. Without it, making moral judgements would be so much more of a minefield than the sidebar of shame already paints it as. God forbid that I might get mixed-up and inadvertently praise a deceased polymath and accidentally criticise a rash of illiterate hideous whores and freak-show afterbirths I’m meant to be fascinated by.

Jo CoxAnd then there’s the Daily Star; never masquerading as smart, proud to be dumb, and happy with its place as the idiot offspring of Fleet Street. Its headline today included the words ‘Brexit Gunman’ when describing the killer of MP Jo Cox. A bit like the Mail delivering its in-house judge, jury and executioner verdict on Clement Freud, the Star decided an unconfirmed cry in support of the far-right thug collective Britain First on the part of the 41-year-old MP’s murderer was enough to summarise his political stance on the EU Referendum, as though that has any remote relevance.

The precise facts surrounding the events that left two young children without a mother have not yet been compiled, so speculation and rumour currently occupy the void. I suspect the casualty of Care in the Community who shot and stabbed a well-liked Westminster newcomer in her constituency probably didn’t even know who she was. If he did, however, his actions were the most extreme example of the chic hatred of politicians that has recently received TV exposure via the constant emphasis of letting the public have its say on Referendum debates, shouting over the replies to their questions and earning themselves their fifteen minutes of Twittersphere fame.

Let’s be frank – Geldof and Farage’s hi-jinks on the Thames not withstanding, it’s been a pretty bloody grim week all round. We could do with a laugh, whether or not we’re allowed to laugh anymore…

© The Editor