To say that the BBC is in a crisis is a grave understatement. To say that it does not know what to do about its crisis seems a self-evident truth. Once the BBC was a peerless paradigm for other public-service broadcasters to emulate. Now it is a byword for mendacity and bias.

Take, for example (and by the Lord Harry, are we spoilt for choice here), this odious tale. The facts appear to be these. Scott Walker, a somewhat reclusive 1960s pop star, gave an interview to an American film maker, Stephen Kijak who then turned the interview into a biography of Walker called ’30 Century Man’. It was broadcast in the US where it won acclaim.

The BBC then acquired the film which it proceeded to re-edit for broadcasting in the UK. With his agreement (let it be said) Kijak was excised from the programme, in particular such sections as would clearly reveal who the progenitor of the work actually was. In his place was inserted one Alan Yentob, creative director at the BBC, so that it was made to appear that both interview and film appeared to be his work.

It is said that his view of the world is that there can be “artifice without deception”. Some might think that this, in his case, is merely another way of saying there are “lies” and “damned lies”.

The word “creative” in his title appears to be used without irony. Perhaps this refers to what the Sunday Times has noted as being the wholesale lifting of chunks of commentary from the original and their re-use by Mr. Yentob as if they were his own. The re-edit has largely left the programme much as it was when first broadcast under Kijak’s imprimatur. Creative is one word for this exercise: others might have another way of describing it.

There are two issues here, it seems to me.

Firstly we, the viewer, may well wish to make a judgement on Mr. Yentob’s worth based on the products that go out as ostensibly having been created by him. For we, The Taxpayer, are entitled to judge people like Mr. Yentob so that we may decide if we are getting value for our money. Since this was just a ‘cut and paste’ job that was, however, effectively presented as being down to Mr. Yentob’s creativity, we are being asked to judge him based on a falsehood. This programme had, in effect, nothing to do with Mr. Yentob’s skills in seeking out the artist and getting him to open up as a person, wherein lies the creativity, but had everything to do with his skills as a ‘cut and paste’ editor.

In other words, in this case ‘artifice’ actually means ‘deception.

The second point is that we are also being misled about the BBC as a whole. When we see the programme we are led to understand that it was the work of one of the BBC’s own and thus the BBC basks in the reflection of that person’s skill. Both are winners.

Its defence is that the reworking was done entirely with Kijak’s agreement. That may be so, but it misses the point entirely. Kijak may well be pleased that his opus has reached thereby a greater audience but the fact remains that the product as we have received it is a deceit. It tells a lie about itself and that is simply not acceptable. It also tells lie about Mr. Yentob, a practice from which he does not appear to blench in this case. Many may also think his conduct is unacceptable.

What troubles one so much is that in its defence the BBC seems utterly unable or unwilling to recognise that what has been done is just as corrosive of trust as is the insertion of so-called ‘noddy shots’ or fixing phone-in competitions to achieve the result desired by the producers or whatever the latest ‘artifice’ may be.

During the Second World War the BBC was so trusted that people risked listening to it in order to get the truth about their situation so that they might disseminate it to others and give them hope.

Now the BBC is a byword for cheating, lying, deceiving, dissimulating, fibbing and brute bias. If it is to maintain its entitlement to the Tax known as the licence fee, it needs to return to its former virtues, failing which we will find another way of ensuring the truth be told.