Former BBC radio presenter Nigel Rees has revealed to RT why he stopped working for the BBC, citing Covid-19, lack of live viewers and waking prescriptions from above.
Speaking to RT on Monday, Reese, the former host of BBC Radio 4’s “Quote…Unquote”, explained that he has slowly lost autonomy over the show as broadcasters have become more regulated in recent years.
Rees left the show he created last month after 46 years, saying he was increasingly angry at the broadcaster’s insistence on pushing its diversity agenda.
In an interview with RT, he explained that the BBC is very keen on a balance between men and women, which has been the case for several years, but claimed that the broadcaster’s philosophy of diversity has recently been much more than that.
The 77-year-old host said he was asked to book guests of color and disabilities, not people who were really fit for the show. “Now you might wonder why [booking disabled guests] important in broadcasting. Well, it’s something they think is important, so I agree, and I agree with people of color,” He said.
Rees said such an intervention went against his principles and ideas about the project. “My rule has always been that we should only have people who fit the program, who support it, who can do it, regardless of their skin color or religion.”
He said the BBC’s “wake up,” which wasn’t good for him. Rees explained that in the show’s 500th episode, he wanted to include lyrics from Noël Coward’s 1932 comic song “Mad Dog and the Englishman,” and the panel of judges would be asked to identify the quote the source of.
The route Reese chose was, “In Bangladesh, it’s rare to move, if ever.” But the BBC said “No” and claim it cannot be used because it reflects “Colonial attitude.” The presenter explained that the song was making fun of the British, not the locals featured in the lyrics. He added that the intervention resulted in a shouting match.
Rees also pointed to a possible generation gap between his 55 years in the industry and his colleagues at the BBC, adding that his last producer was around 50 years younger. “She’s very passionate about what you call ‘the right cause,’ so inevitably she pushes that, which I resist to a degree,” He said.
Rees also said Covid-19 and a lack of live studio audiences were another reason for his decision to leave the show.
He noted that recording in front of a live audience was very important to him and his colleagues. After recording the show’s 500th episode, Rees said it was time to pull the plug. He said he would continue to write newsletters about the offer, but would not be paid for it.
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