Young, unemployed, depressed.
I hate Strictly Come Dancing but that isn’t the reason why I’m going to trash national treasure and thoroughly nice old man SIR Bruce Forsyth.
The knighthood is the culmination of a remarkable career. The recognition comes for a multitude of achievements; not only has he been the recipient of the award for most prominent chin in show business for 70 years in a row but he can also list an impressive catalogue of work in entertainment and for charity.
I’m not going to dispute the charity work. I’m not even going to question the highly unlikely existence of said ‘biggest chin’ award or ‘Chinnies’. Instead I’m going for the juggernaut and questioning the value of his entertainment.
If the knighthood was for services to sticking to a routine through thick and thin never worrying about originality or creativity, fearlessly refusing to deviate let alone swerve from doing the same drab thing…. repeatedly…and getting away with it for a laughably long time, then he is a God.
He is spoon-fed laughter from an increasingly vacuous audience seemingly too bedazzled by Eurovision song contest style lighting and sparkly glitter to digest that his ‘jokes’ were tired and lazy when they were originally conceived. The fact that he’s still on TV is a damning indictment of both the creative team who thought that such a show was acceptable in the first place and the 10 million odd people who’ve made it a runaway success ever since.
But that’s enough chastising a career. To go further would be to rob the material of future historians when biographies of stars of light entertainment will have long since replaced political histories as the country’s favourite academic pursuit.
Rest assured there is a relevance to this blog, it’s not just a vitriolic rant unfairly thrown in the face of an elderly statesman. The context is a country with rising unemployment rates, 8.1 per cent to be reasonably exact, and a serious problem facing young people in getting a proverbial foot on the ladder.
A lot of readers will think they see where I’m going but honestly I don’t want to purge all old people. The problem isn’t older workers. With their pension problems and having lived through an age where pissing away money made economic sense, they have enough trouble. Instead I’m going to be reasonable and bemoan the BBC’s management system.
I am one of thousands of journalism graduates who torturously dragged themselves through an incredibly elongated education system, did my exams, paid my dues and, to an extent, paid my fees. Having given up on any grand delusions of being a musician, astrophysicist or archaeologist, I finally decided that journalism is what I want to do with my life.
It’s a reasonable enough ambition. In a way it’s a noble attitude. I don’t want to be the important person doing the important things; I just want to be the guy who passes on the message so that people in general can rest assured that important stuff is happening.
Yet as soon as I finally had that soul searching conversation with the mirror and determined once and for all that this is the career I can do and do well, I find that the world seems to have decided already that I can’t do it and won’t even give me a chance to prove it right.
Most of the jobs out there are for editors/deputy editors and are hardly a walk in job for a fresh-faced graduate. 99.9 per cent of available vacancies demand a ‘very experienced’ professional who’s spent years in the industry. So I turned to the BBC trainee scheme and BOOM, it doesn’t accept students who’ve graduated with a journalism undergraduate or postgraduate degree.
So am I useless because of my lack of experience or am I past my sell by date because I know too much?
The media is one of the most important industries in our society and it needs fresh blood and new ideas otherwise it gets stale quickly. We shouldn’t be proud that one man has been such a dominant force in the industry and for so long. His renaissance with ‘strictly fumbled prancing’ isn’t because he came back with new material; he didn’t have a tour de force that suddenly thrust him back into relevance. But whilst Brucie needs to have the good grace to step aside the far more important issue for the future of young journalists and young people generally is that managers of the companies of this country need to be brave enough to give youth a chance.
I’m an indebted graduate, one of nearly a million unemployed 16-24 year olds.
Bruce Forsyth is a million years old, rich and employed.
p.s. (I would have fleshed out my Brucie statistic at the end with a figure for his salary but I couldn’t afford to pay the Times subscription to read the article carrying the figure…)