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'Noughts and Crosses' - the BBC's Childish Game

Like a sisyphean hamster trapped inside a closed algorithmic circuit or a person who has been beating their head against a brick wall for so long that he has dashed out the part of his brain that might have told him it is a good idea to stop the BBC continues to throw away license payers' money on 'educating' us drones about things we adverted to and got bored and annoyed with years ago. So preoccupied with its zealous didactic mission is the BBC, though, that, like a bad teacher, it hasn't even noticed that its pupils are making paper airplanes, becoming actively irritated with him or actually slipping out of the classroom muttering. Such is the case with the latest drama to hit our screens - Noughts and Crosses. Lest one be in any doubt about the motivation behind the drama the author of the book on which it is based, ex 'Children's Laureate' (yes this book is regularly used in schools to ensure the right-thinking of our children) Malorie Blackman, tells us that "...the facts show there is more hate crime in Britain and people being judged on skin colour or religion or sexual orientation." One of the lead, black actors, Paterson Joseph, has added this “......I think this issue (racism) is always there, (and) I think we’re particularly living in a time where the volume has been turned up on all that. When you’re shooting, you know it’s significant because you know it’s going to upset some people, maybe a lot of people, on both sides of the ethnic lines.”

Essentially white Britain is ruled by the 'Aprican' Empire which, in an obvious echo of the British Empire (which 'It is a fact universally acknowledged', isn't it, did nothing but evil?) invaded our shores 700 years ago. As a result black Apricans (see what she did there?) represent a patrician class which rules over the white plebeian untermenschen who serve as their gardeners and maids. The BBC think they are being virtuous by educating us about an important and righteous cause and the author believes she is being achingly clever in her flipping of the coin to put us in a place where we are obliged to empathise with what it is like to be black in the UK presumably because we are too imaginatively lazy or complacent to do it for ourselves. Of course, both are wrong.

The most curious way in which the BBC is wrong is in its failure to notice that it is broadcasting this programme in the UK which is often declared as one of the least racist countries in the world. But what about Stephen Lawrence whose murder was the catalyst to Blackman's writing of the story you might say? Well, let's scroll back a little. The human condition means that, within any polity occupying any given geographical space one culture is likely to and, indeed, must obtain. This is because nature abhors a vacuum and, if there is one, a Darwinian scrabble for cultural dominance takes place which someone has to win so that they have the authority required to impose law and order. One had better hope that a good guy wins! It so happens that, on this island, long before any significant number of black faces were in evidence, that battle was won by the Anglo-Saxons over the Celts and the Danes. Not far into the narrative the Anglo-Saxons christianised. Later the Christian Normans took over. The issue is never "Are there minorities in a polity?" but "How do we deal with them?" One can easily argue that what evolved in the UK was one of the most civilised and sophisticated modes of addressing the problem ever seen on the planet. This mode emerged from a Judeo-Christian tradition that stressed that all men are made in the image of God and an Enlightenment that stressed the universalism of membership of the human race. It was this benevolent combination that, in the kind of slow awakening you might expect, led the United Kingdom to wake up to and lead the abolition of the scandal of the slave trade which had been conducted by Europeans, black Africans and Arabs alike. All that Stephen Lawrence's murder proved was that no system in this fallen world is ever perfect and, in fact, that things like this are bound to happen from time to time because one of the further sophistications of our system is that it resists those who would encourage it to make the sinister attempt to force people to be good. The flipside of freedom is the freedom to behave very badly unfortunately. As all sensible conservative people know no singularity is ever reached where crimes never occur. That's why we have laws.

Noughts and Crosses stupidly fails to understand all of this and takes the sad particular experience of the Lawrence family, universalises it to represent the attitudes of the whole of the UK and conflates and, unjustifiably, intensifies it with the Race Laws of South African apartheid (it also unthinkingly accepts the parallel it makes between the programme's Aprican Empire and the supposed universal wickedness of the British Empire). In this sense it grossly misrepresents history and the status quo in a wicked and inflammatory manner. It's no surprise that the series features the 'Grime' singer, Stormzy, who buys in big time to this kind of nasty, paranoid nonsense. It never gives an answer to why so many West Indians chose to come to this benighted place with its benighted culture. The set-up of the tale is also wrong in assuming that the dynamic of authority and power extant in the UK is one of oppression and exploitation. This betrays the paucity of the BBC's and the author's sub-Marxist imagination; one that can only see relations in terms of viciousness and never in terms of benignity and responsibility. The BBC is lost in a deep dark wood at war with the very culture that once happily produced it and the viewers who are supposed to sustain it. Being pathologically conflicted in this way is a kind of severe psychological dysfunction. It can't end well.....

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