It’s tempting to say of Greg Dyke: hoist with his own petard. The former Director General who once complained that the BBC was ‘hideously white’, is now at risk of a white-out. The only man ever to put a Rat (Roland) on a sinking ship (TV AM: he turned it round and made a tidy profit), may be pushed out of his nearly new role as chair of the Football Association (FA) after complaints about his hideously white appointees to the FA Commission on the future of the English game.
In an open letter to his chief critic, ‘Greg’ (just don’t call me ‘Gregory’) even cites his ‘hideously white’ comment as proof of his bona fides.
Greg – I know you won’t mind me calling you that, ‘cos that’s the down to earth guy you are – have you never heard the saying: ‘those who live in glass houses’? Just glance at a looking-glass…..
But if it’s easy to have a go at Greg for being right-on, man of the people, down with the black and ethnic minority communities – only to have it blow back in his hideously white face, it’s hard to accept that this is what became of the generation which saw television as a genuinely popular medium; the people’s window on the world.
Their rise was imbued with widespread hope for the extension of social democracy; their demise represents its dramatic contraction.
Black and white David Frost, close-cropped hair and skinny ties, in the 1960s the most intelligent man in TV. Greg Dyke’s seven-year ascent from junior researcher to head of London Weekend Television, delivering entertainment and current affairs in full 1970s colour: not bad for a Whispering Bob Harris lookalike.
Intelligence was everything – among these broadcasters but also on the part of the audience they were broadcasting to. Patronising – a whole way of life for their successors – is just what they didn’t do.