In the second part of the Chris Patten’s Christmas Carol, the chairman of the BBC meets the ghost of Christmas Present.
Last night he met the ghost of Christmas Past. If you missed that you can read it HERE
The story continues…
It was not the sound of Lady Lavender Patten’s refined and gentle snoring nor another panic attack about what happened to Chow Mein that awoke the good Lord Christopher Patten. But a loud noise from his study downstairs had the BBC chairman sprinting down the stairs, faster than BBC Middle East Correspondent Jeremy Bowen can say “the peace loving freedom martyrs of Hamas fired rockets on an Israeli school to protect themselves from the Genocidal imperialist warmongers.”
Sitting behind Patten’s leather bound desk with gold inlay, marked “A present from 400 million the grateful people of Europe for your Herculean labours as a European Commissioner” was another grey figure. Once again he was not smiling.
“Oh no not another of you consultant Johnnies” said Patten. The grey figure beckoned and gripped Patten’s hand. Through the air they flew.
After just a few minutes, Patten found himself gazing down on a Christmas day party. The figures all looked familiar and suddenly Patten realised that he had made all of them redundant as part of “Project Free Lunch” – a scheme designed to bring new creative energy to the Beeb while reducing fixed costs. His management consultants had convincingly demonstrated to him that the £50 million upfront costs would have a “creative enhancement adjusted payback of less than 24 months”
“I got £150,000 and have now been re-hired at £2000 a day as a freelance” shouted one man as he snorted a line of Highella and cracked open another bottle of champagne. “Only £150,000 – you were robbed” said another. Patten was puzzled they all seemed very happy with life.
Suddenly there was a cry of “It’s three and it’s on” and the room fell silent. “Aha they are watching the Queen on the Beeb” said Patten to himself, reassured that some things do not change. “Oh, hang on, what’s this all about?”
A bearded Asian man waving a hook and wearing an orange jumpsuit marked “Guantanamo” was on screen. It was the Channel 4 alternative Christmas Queen’s message of love, with this year’s guest presenter Abu Hamza.
“That’s the sort of programming the Beeb needs to be doing to celebrate Christmas” uttered a man with large red-rimmed glasses and a Lenin style beard. All those in the room murmured their agreement. And we will they now that we are back as consultants said a large woman with orange hair wearing rainbow coloured dungarees.
“So I got £500,000 when I was fired for covering up the Saville cover-up shouted a man in a sharp suit – can anyone beat that? “Anyone fancy more free lunch?”
Patten was feeling rather uncomfortable and was quite relieved when the grey man, gripped his wrist and soon they were flying away from London and heading North. The skies were grey and it started to snow slowly at first but then rather heavily.
The ghost of Christmas Present passed Patten an earphone so that he could hear Susan Watts explain to Newsnight viewers how snow in December was conclusive evidence of global warming.
Patten told the Ghost that he approved of the North of England. “Of course I would not want to go there myself” he explained ”But the Beeb has invested hundreds of millions in building a lavish new head office and studio there to demonstrate our commitment to regional diversity.”
The ghost smiled and the pair swooped down on suburban streets where family after family was watching Sky TV or ITV. But…spluttered Patten what don’t they like about East Enders with its new transgender vegetarian characters or our daily exposes of how capitalism and Margaret Thatcher are the causes of global warming? The ghost did not comment. “But don’t they love the Beeb as a valued and Trusted National icon which spends the license fee so very wisely” asked Patten?
The ghost took Patten along Street after Street but no-one was watching the BBC.
“We’ll show them on Christmas Day” said Patten defiantly “As we celebrate the birth of Nelson Mandela with non-stop coverage of his life”
The ghost smiled.
Suddenly Patten was back in his bed. Once again he said good night to the photo of his beloved dog Chow Mein and tried to get some sleep. But something was not right.
To be continued.