The Conservative Party has never been the greatest of friends with the BBC and has long held the view that it is over paid, over staffed and all together to big for it’s boots. In among his budget cuts last year was a not too subtle shift of responsibility for paying for free TV licences from the Government to the BBC. Although it is phased across several years, in the long run it amounts to a cut to the BBC of £700 million a year, equal to ten percent of it total butget. Ouch !
In response the Beeb has come up with a great idea for a new comedy series. Modelled on the very successful charity fund-raiser “Children in need” . Each week an audience of wealthy pensioners who are over 75 years old will be asked, begged, shamed or cajoled into paying their £145.50 annual licence fee instead of getting it for free.
Sir Michael Parkinson, a former Older People’s Tsar, has been asked to headline the first show because of his recent expertise at selling funeral plans to pensioners.
It is hoped that Episode two may feature Rod Stewart, Mick Jagger, Cliff Richard and Dame Shirley Bassey, providing the BBC can persuade them to come back to this country from their tax havens. Of course they don’t have to pay the licence fee themselves as they are tax exiles. They have been asked to sing a spirited rendition of “Money, money, money” .
Negotiations are rumoured to be taking place with the ever popular Ken Dodd, because of his extensive experience of the British tax system, but the stumbling block may be he reluctance to give up his own free TV licence.
The whole series is still in the planning stage at present, but a BBC spokesman said they are hoping to raise many millions of pounds this way, otherwise they have to reduce some of the huge fees they pay to their star acts .
Post Script :-
Inspired by the BBCs response the Chancellor is now thinking of passing responsibility for the Winter Fuel Allowance to the energy companies.