Peter Rhodes on tax dodging at the Beeb, a pay rise for MPs and bear-faced film stars
A grizzly week for the BBC.
AND here we are, safely out of a nasty cold snap. Positively the last words are those of a well-insulated Guardian reader: "The Beast from the East was defeated by the Vest from the West." I wish I'd thought of that.
IT may be, as Damian Collins MP suggests, "a real scandal" if it turns out that the BBC forced presenters to be paid as freelancers - a tax arrangement which now risks landing some of them with massive bills for under-payment. But let us nip in the bud any suggestion that the BBC, not the stars, ought to pay all that unpaid tax. The BBC has no money of its own. It struggles along on our licence fees plus a government grant worth a total of about £4,000 million a year. If the BBC pays the missing tax, it means we pay. And frankly, after many weeks enduring the whining of BBC prima donnas who think £150,000 is not enough to be paid for reading an autocue, I'm in no mood to bung them a few quid from my wages. And I bet you feel the same.
IN any case, surely none of these presenters is dim enough to have changed their tax status without first clearing it a) with a financial adviser and b) with the taxman. Surely?
INCIDENTALLY, if you think £4,000 million a year is rather a large sum to give the BBC, bear in mind that it employs teams of journalists working tirelessly to protect us from hearing any stories about Czech spies or Max Mosley.
MPs have quietly awarded themselves a £1,300 pay rise. Whenever you challenge Honourable Members on their salary, the usual story is that they are so enormously talented they'd be earning much more outside Parliament. It's hard to square that claim with the pitiful sight of MPs blubbing on the stage when the voters chuck 'em out on election night. There is nothing as ex as an ex-MP.
SOME of the newest clean, green diesel cars would fail the current clean-air regulations. A reader raises a fascinating question: "Who thought it was a good idea to put young children in a buggy and push them along the pavement at the same level as vehicle exhausts?" Quite right. In the days of the traditional pram, kids rode in elevated majesty, well above exhaust level.
I FINALLY got around to seeing The Revenant, Leonardo DiCaprio's 2015 film of disembowelment in a cold climate. I will never see Paddington bear in quite the same light again.
THE Revenant is one of those films that poses particular difficulties for those of us afflicted with prosopagnosia, difficulty in recognising faces. The problem is not only that all the Ree Indians look the same, nor even that all the trappers look the same. It's that everybody looks like the grizzly bear.