BBC’s Godslot: ‘Deeply boring’ but popular with listeners
A poll being run by the BBC that asks ‘Does Thought for The Day still have a place on the Today programme?’ today shows that more than 46 percent of listeners want it kept ‘exactly as it is.’
The poll was launched after veteran British broadcaster John Humphrys, above, ignited a fresh row over TFTD when he described its content as “deeply, deeply boring.”
For decades, Radio 4’s Godslot has been regarded as sacrosanct by BBC and all efforts to scrap it, or open it up to secular voices have been imperiously brushed aside. Interviewed last night on Radio 4, Keith Porteous Wood, Executive Director of the National Secular Society, said that the NSS has been complaining about the TFTD for 50 years, and added that it should either be ditched or reformed, but preferably scrapped. The NSS carried a piece about it here.
Humphrys’ comments gave regular TFTD contributor Giles Fraser, the priest-in-charge at St Mary’s Newington in south London and the former canon chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, an opening to pen a piece for the Guardian in which he said:
A culture of sniggering contempt towards religion is endemic within the BBC. And one acceptable way of demonstrating this is to slag off Thought for the Day.
He added that TFTD has become:
A totem of the BBC’s attitude towards faith generally – that it is an embarrassing relative it has had to invite to the party, but one who can be made to sit in the corner, and about whom it is acceptable to make jokes. To the overpaid panjandrums of the BBC, religion is for the little people, for the stupid and the gullible.
And he blathered on:
Personally, I don’t see the problem with having a slot ringfenced for a particular subject such as religion. The BBC has several for football, and for science. And then there’s Woman’s Hour. And quite right too. But for some reason, the very presence of religion, even at the homeopathic levels at which it is entertained by the BBC, is perceived as some sort of insult to the precious, godless secularity of the news.
But the news isn’t godless – just the people who report on it. About 31% of people in the world are Christians. About 24% are Muslims. About 15% are Hindus. The vast majority of the people on this planet believe in some sort of God. These faiths, and many numerically smaller ones, have shaped world history, ethics, politics and culture like no other force known to humankind. And, for good or ill, people still live and die for their faith. Quite simply, you cannot understand the world unless you understand something about the way that faith functions in the lives of its adherents.