Television

The Great European Disaster on BBC4 reviewed: propaganda worthy of Leni Riefenstahl

7 March 2015

9:00 AM

7 March 2015

9:00 AM

My favourite bit of The Great European Disaster (BBC4, Sunday) was the lingering shot that showed golden heads of corn stirring gently in the breeze. It was captioned ‘Europe’.

I cannot even begin to describe what a powerful effect this had on my subconscious. It was worthy of Leni Riefenstahl. Indeed, when I experimentally turned off the colour, it was Leni Riefenstahl. ‘Bloody hell!’ I thought to myself. ‘Suddenly it all makes sense.’

But my journey of discovery and enlightenment was only just beginning. I haven’t yet told you what the Ukrainian peasant said. I forget his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, ‘When I think of Europe, I think of the ample bosom of the most loving mother since the Virgin Mary; of peace, harmony, serenity, abundant harvests, fantastical tractor production rates…’

None of this emotive stuff, though, would have had nearly as much impact if it hadn’t been backed up by some serious and very convincing intellectual arguments as to why — as the programme’s thesis had it — the break-up of the European Union would be a disaster for us all. Here are a few of them:

Dead body. By dwelling at great length on a grotesque photograph of a rotting, discoloured corpse in a pit, the programme illustrated that thanks to the EU we have never experienced hideous conflicts like the Yugoslav civil war, where the photo was taken.


Ritterkreuz. A distinguished elderly German woman showed us the Iron Cross that her father had won in the Western Desert, and the one her grandfather had won in the first war. Thanks to the EU, she asserted, their descendants will never have to fight in any more wars. Hurrah!

Conchita Wurst. The victory of a bearded man in a dress in the Eurovision Song Contest, the programme assured us, was an utterly magnificent thing which might never have happened without the EU.

Planes will fall out of the sky. This was illustrated courtesy of the light comic acting skills of Angus Deayton, sitting in a pretend plane next to a sweet little girl who had just been deported by Prime Minister Nigel Farage (even more evil than he was in Ukip: The First 100 Days, apparently) explaining to her how lovely the EU was. Bizarrely, even though the plane was obviously doomed, none of the passengers seemed that scared, which rather defeated the object of the metaphor.

Well, you get the idea. I have seen some dismal, clodhoppingly propagandistic, lefty dross on the BBC in my time — Richard Curtis’s The Girl in the Café; Countryfile; anything on Gaza or global warming — but The Great European Disaster truly was in a league of its own. If this risible tosh is all the thanks the EU gets for the £22 million it has donated to the BBC in the past few years then I think it has every right to sue for defamation of character.

Was the editor of Storyville — the BBC blue-ribbon documentary slot that has shown such masterpieces as Little Dieter Needs to Fly — really happy to toxify his brand with this drivel? If he wasn’t, he should resign. If he was, he should consider retiring to his study with a bottle of whisky and his service pistol.

Still, the BBC is at least to be congratulated on scheduling it immediately after a programme called Arts Question Time, which is like Question Time, only with questions about the arts instead of politics, and with an earnest, whiny audience agitating about such vital issues of the day as ‘Why aren’t there more working-class/ethnic minority/disabled Hollywood directors?’, with a panel so agonisingly bien-pensant no one dares say anything remotely contentious like, say, ‘Who cares about the identity or background of the people making the art? All that should matter is: is the art any good?’ Such was its dreary worthiness, it made the European Disaster look almost exciting by comparison.

tv1
Climate Change by Numbers: Dr Hannah Fry with a temperature map of the Earth

Finally, Climate Change By Numbers (BBC4, Monday). We’re going to see a lot more programmes like this in the run-up to the next big climate talks in Paris in December: slick, superficially plausible attempts to reposition ‘global warming’ as a key issue of concern in the public consciousness.

Its arguments went something like this: climate change is real because nice, smiley girl with red hair; climate change is real because maths; climate change is real because potted history of US sea captain who standardised methods for measuring water temperature; climate change is real because Tottenham Hotspur; etc. With these ingenious distractions, it effortlessly swerved contentious issues such as the fact that the entire 20th-century temperature record has been subjected to unexplained — and probably unjustifiable — adjustments. I wonder what percentage of its presumably tiny audience it convinced.

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Show comments
  • pobinr
  • WFB56

    “The answer seems obvious to me — because they are stupid middle-class white liberal dupes.” That’s the silver lining, no one watches this dross.

    • yaosxx

      Yes – it would be interesting to know what the viewing figures are – if any…

  • Graham Thompson

    “With these ingenious distractions, it effortlessly swerved contentious
    issues such as the fact that the entire 20th-century temperature record
    has been subjected to unexplained — and probably unjustifiable —
    adjustments.”

    The first section of the programme, the bit with the nice, smiley Doctor of Mathematics with red hair, was about this, and only this.

    I know you refuse to read any science, James, and that’s your right, but putting your fingers in your ears whilst watching a TV programme you’re supposed to review seems a bit of a waste of everyone’s time.

    • jamesdelingpole

      Well done, mate. You got an upvote from geotheory who really knows his stuff…

    • Damian Hurts

      I cannot believe what I am reading.
      Because you got an upvote from someone who is an ejjit, you are an ejjit.
      Well faq me, that explains logicalistic thinking right there then init?

      (please, trolls, no upvotes for me comment!)

      • EUROJESUS

        couldn’t help it.

    • Crakalakin

      “Refuse to read any science?” How about you actually LEARN some science? Science requires provability, prediction and replication of outcomes to come to accurate conclusions. Absolutely none of that is available with regard to global warming “science”. NONE. It is a ruse on those who do not practice in the sciences and a boon for those who receive grants to study climate. We know gravity exists because it can be proven, we can accurately predict it’s effects and replicate its force. We know evolution is real because of the same. We can not do any of that with regard to climate change. Why not? That is the question real, objective scientists ask. Slick, propagandistic television is not science. Production values do not equate to problem solving. Pretty ladies, regardless of academic pedigree, reading scripts are not definitive answers.

  • geotheory

    Wow this Delingpole fellow truly is one sneery misogynist. But more importantly his chief criticism here – the documentary “swerved contentious.. unexplained adjustments” – is simply not true. The programme’s central focus was the necessity for such statistical adjustments given the absence of a full data record, while recognising their subjective nature. This article is either highly disingenuous or the author just didn’t get it.

    • Rkennedyesq

      “This article is either highly disingenuous or the author just didn’t get it.” Alternatively JD simply didn’t provide a detailed explanation of how the BBC “swerved contentious… unexplained adjustments”, which is not surprising given the article is predominantly concerned with blatant propaganda rather than the more complex and detailed history of global warming alarmists’ manipulation of data to fit their narrative.

      When the BBC and its disciples are accused of left leaning bias they will often counter the accusation that they cannot possibly be so because they employ say, Jeremy Clarkson. Or Nick ‘Toenails’ Robinson who was a conservative when he was 5 or something. To those who cannot think beyond what they are told this would be an adequate explanation. Case closed, nothing to see here, yada yada… However, the argument fails to recognise that the BBC has some 17000 FTEs plus an army of left leaning luvvies on speed dial, so pointing to one or two staff who have right of centre political views does not adequately deal with the accusation of bias.

      When dealing with the issue of deception through the manipulation of the temperature record, the BBC employed the same technique. They took one incidence of data manipulation, admitted scientists had indeed altered the record to suit their purpose but only because this was absolutely necessary from a scientific perspective and it was all above board really. To anybody unfamiliar with the (fairly detailed and tedious) history and level of deception regarding temperature data manipulation this would seem to adequately answer one of the criticisms levelled at global warming alarmists. It doesn’t. Not by a long shot.

      • geotheory

        Zzzz

        • Daniel North

          Your pretty thick.

          Yes I know I said your instead of you’re.

          But when speaking to a monkey man, one must stick a banana in his ear and fling some shit at a wall to communicate.

      • Damian Hurts

        And why would we give a sh*t about someone fiddling with some stupid temperature record when all you need to do now is “fit triple glazing, a wood burner, loft insulation and the last possible LED light bulb in your home to save energy”?

        These simple measures will cut your consumption of gas by 35% and of electricity by 60% and it beats all the a****oles out there who want to sell us their excel spreadsheets with numbers on them to inform the price of oil.

    • David Glen

      Of course he does not get it. Someone gave him a reference that fully outlined the methodology behind the adjustments and his response was “…bull.” Other people have to read the stuff for him, as he freely admits. If he could read the papers it would be obvious that any statistical methodology set up to remove systematic bias has to be and can easily be free from a pre-determining bias itself. The adjustments are fully and openly explained but rejected as “bull.” You can’t reason with such high calibre rejoinders. The analysis is devastating in it’s insight.

      • yaosxx

        Amazing – did you write that all by yourself…?

        • David Glen

          A moot point faced with your – ‘you’re a monkey / idiot ‘ school of philosophical discourse.

          • yaosxx

            So that’s a NO then…?

    • FrancescaMacfarlane

      If you want more objective detail on why the program was seriously misleading go to http://www.thegwpf.com/climate-change-by-the-numbers/

      • geotheory

        Hilarious take on “objective”. A polemic from a think tank dedicated to climate change skepticism, chaired by a man (Nigel Lawson) that called Kyoto “wrongheaded”, and is secretly funded by currency brokers and industrialists ( http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/sep/02/nigel-lawson-climate-sceptic-organisation-funders ). That must put this in the same objectivity category as the time Saddam’s Information Minister announced “Our initial assessment is that they will all die”.

        • FrancescaMacfarlane

          You are the one indulging in polemical outbursts. Which of Dr David Whitehouse’s simple and clear criticisms of the program do you think are unjustifiable and why?

          • geotheory

            I’ll leave that pleasure for someone better qualified. Suffice to draw attention to his clear agenda.

          • yaosxx

            Proving Daniel North’s comment above that you’re just an ignorant monkey!

          • geotheory

            Good point. At the end of the day we’re all primates bound by limited information. Which is why

          • yaosxx

            No no mate – just you, just you!

          • geotheory

            You’re right of course

  • Brad Keyes

    James,

    Dr Fry (.@fryrsquared) seems to think you should’ve spent “less time worrying about my hair colour and more time listening to what I was actually saying..”

    I listened to what she was actually saying.

    It wasn’t exactly the kind of stuff we pay mathematicians for.

    When she posed the vacuous, innumerate non-question:

    “Is climate change happening?”

    …I began to understand why people found her dog, hair, clothes etc. more interesting.

    • Damian Hurts

      Fitted triple glazing, a wood burner, loft insulation and the last possible LED light bulb in my home this week. This will cut my consumption of gas by 35% and of electricity by 60%. Don’t give a sh*t about your meaningless concerns.

      • yaosxx

        Never mind – EUROJESUS loves you…

        • Damian Hurts

          EUROJESUS liked jamesdelingpole’s comment too.
          What does it all mean?

          • yaosxx

            Well you liked your comment as well – what does that mean…?

          • Damian Hurts

            It goes without saying that I like my comment. Now you have proof.

            Why does the dog lick his bollox?
            Because he can!

          • yaosxx

            Yeah but it doesn’t give itself points for doing so…

          • Damian Hurts

            I like the fact how you are all uptight about Brad’s self obsession.

          • yaosxx

            ??? Didn’t think I was – I agreed with his comment.
            There you go again – licking your own bollox…

          • Damian Hurts

            At least I am warm unlike you who is still (a) hoping for global warming to turn out for the better and (b) is begging his future king to do deals with another king to keep the oil price down.

            Licking own bollox beats licking someone else’s backside, matey. boo ya kasha!

          • yaosxx

            ??? Don’t know what you’re talking about and don’t think you do too – maybe if you took your head outta your crotch once in a while… – I’m warm too though I wouldn’t mind a a fraction more warmth but it’s unlikely to happen because the whole “global warming” myth is just a fraud and scam!

          • Damian Hurts

            Glowbull worming, massa.
            You lose because you know exactly what I am talking about.

            Boo ya kasha.

          • yaosxx

            The trouble is you keep speaking with your mouth full so it doesn’t come out right – so you agree it’s a load of bollox too – why didn;t you say so…?

          • Damian Hurts

            It’s considered bad manners to check the horse’s mouth on the Fourth Plinth, matey. It was a gift.

            Boo ya kasha.

          • yaosxx

            Yeesss… Well it’s been fun but I thnk I’m going to take a raincheck now – I hear it’s going to be raining cats and dogs soon…

    • nilbud

      Don’t feel bad “Brad” you can’t help it, it’s a medical condition.

  • Stephen

    At last I’ve found a use for James Delingpole’s scientific ignorance and right wing ideology. Instead of having to browse through the TV listings to choose the decent programmes, Delingpole can just send me his list of hates. Bingo!

  • There is NO Carbon forcing and NO phantom back radiation warming. There is a rigged three sided debate between the elitist directed Darth BIG Warmists, the controlled opposition Luke LITTLE Warmists and the independent, informed Obie NO Warmists. In a three sided debate, two sides are WRONG, see…

    “Lukewarm Lemmings and the Lysenko Larceny” at the FSS site.

    • nilbud

      You’re not educated and your childish tantrums demonstrate that you had lazy parents,.

      • History will not be decided by your ad hominem attacks….

        objective thinkers are directed to the FauxScienceSlayer site.

        • nilbud

          Why would you want to annoy an objective thinker with your lies and nonsense. Don’t you ever feel your stupidity?

      • yaosxx

        And you’re an idiot – but never mind – EUROJESUS loves you too…!

        • nilbud

          Quiet down you uneducated barbarian, go clean your gun.

          • yaosxx

            Rather be a barbarian than an idiot! And as for uneducated – what the hell would you know…?

  • mikewaller

    If I were an optimist (like that idiot Matt Ridley – he of Northern Rock fame) I might just hope that you could draw on your experiences with the EU film to garner some insight into the intensity of feeling I routinely experience when reading your seemingly endless tosh on both EU membership and climate change. Sadly being far better grounded that Ridley, I have no such expectations.

  • Mark Owen

    Was this really a review or rather a smug dismissal of the program’s content because it didn’t fit in with the reviewer’s, somewhat tardy and blinkered, world view?

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