But… is it news?

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Empty office, view of London – must be a spy

This isn’t really a review, more a complaint about a wholly unnecessary preview combined with a request for common sense. Tonight at 9 the BBC will broadcast a programme called Modern Spies, ostensibly comparing the real spies of today with their more colourful counterparts in film and television (though probably more James Bond and Spooks than Johnny English). How do I know this? Did I see an advert between shows? Did it crop up on my BBC homepage? Nope, it had a segment devoted to it on the 6 o’clock News on BBC1.

Today was hardly a slow news day – Falklands Anniversary, Aung San Suu Kyi, a Syria ceasefire – but the BBC filled up part of the news with a puff piece, reported on by the same journalist doing the show. I just can’t shake the feeling that this sort of lazy programme-filling is going to become more commonplace as journalists and producers are being cut in favour of management positions. Don’t get me wrong, I love the BBC and rarely watch anything else, except for the Food Channel (more on that later), but I want my news to be about news, not a giant advertisement, particularly for a programme that isn’t itself news. Some Horizon or Panorama shows ARE news, and, as we have seen over the years, they can provoke public debate and even real change. This is about members of MI5 not drinking martinis on the job.

Oh well. I doubt I’ll ever review the news again. “Gorgeous” George Aligiyah papered over the cracks well, Will Gompertz was typically fawning over Damien Hurst, the rest of the show was solid. Just please – PLEASE – can you stop advertising in the middle of the news?

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