Hamill’s Beat - The cult of celebrity and its BBC leaders

Sir Jimmy Saville   Photo credit: Channel 4/PA
Sir Jimmy Saville Photo credit: Channel 4/PA

The cult of celebrity is Britain’s post-Christian religion. Its churches are the country’s broadcasters and its print media. Celebrities are its clergy and its gods.

The supremely irritating Jimmy Savile with his over-the-top bling, his inane noises and silly catch-phrases was a prime example of one of the cult’s high priests.

It seems that clerics in religions and cults, dress to impress. Unfortunately, venerating individuals in the new cult brings problems remarkably similar to those experienced in the older holy orders.

If the media provide the cult’s churches, the mighty BBC has provided its grandest cathedral and its institutional hierarchy. More and more radio and TV programmes pay homage to the vacuous notion of celebrity.

Real talent and ability count for little. They’re sacrificed on the altar of celebrity. But then ability can be hard to identify. In any case, how can you tell if a disc jockey has talent? It’s far easier just to promote those who’re famous for being famous.

In the way of the world, the venerated can sometimes assume they’re so special they can get away with anything.

If that sounds familiar, so too does their institutional hierarchy’s response to awkward questions. BBC journalists would never be satisfied with other organisations resorting to bland phrases in response to reasonable questions.

So, it’s simply not good enough for the BBC to blandly cite “editorial reasons” for dropping its ‘Newsnight’ investigation into allegations against Savile. We look forward to hearing an adequate explanation.

The fact that the programme was dropped just before three other programmes went out in tribute to the disc jockey is highly suspicious, to say the least.