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Great Lives/Radio 4

One of my favourite radio programmes is Great Lives, well presented by ex-Tory politician Mathew Parris.

The format is one person advocates a great life and an expert supplies further detail.

Like most of programmes on the BBC these days it has been railroaded and become a feminist platform.

Yesterday’s programme featured Jane Austen and sure enough her advocate, who led the campaign for her to be on the new £10 note, lauded Jane Austen as the poster girl for feminism.

Much was made of the critique she has had to suffer in reputation for never marrying.

When the expert spoke she gave a more objective view. Jane Austen was the daughter of a vicar who died relatively young and she grew up with her brothers. She had difficulty in getting anything published under her own name.

Both man and woman would readily admit and admire Jane Austen’s prowess as a writer: her powers of observation and description, her story-telling put up there with the great beasts of English literature.

But can you honestly claim as her advocate did that she suffered as she was expected to be married and bear 12 children and not a writer?

Many great novels were written in tough conditions. J.D. Salinger kept a journal in his pocket during the Normandy landings in which he wrote Catcher in the Rye, one of the masterpieces of twentieth century literature.

There is a further fundamental point.

The BBC is a public service broadcaster with income taken from the population for a licence fee which is compulsory. However it has strayed from the Reithian ideals to indulge those with a very personal agenda.

And that is a woman speaking!

About Bernadette Angell

After cutting her journalistic teeth in Boston USA, Bernadette met and married an Englishman, whom she followed back to London. Two decades and three children later, they divorced. She now occupies herself as a freelance writer (credits include television soaps and radio plays) and occasional amateur gardener. More Posts