Saturday, 8 September 2012

More Mistakes on the BBC!

Nice to see a documentary ("Jet: When Britain Ruled the Skies," BBC 4, broadcast in the UK on Tuesday 4th September) on Britain's once wonderful civil aircraft industry.  There was some lovely stock footage, especially of the gigantic Bristol Brabazon and the Short Sperrin.  The Sperrin was an attractive, four-engined jet bomber designed as a back-up to the more advanced V-Bombers.  It should have been put into production and would have been a very useful tanker after retirement from front-line service.

The sabotage of our aircraft industry is a key theme of Spyhunter.  We are now aiming for publication, in the States and online, in mid-December.  It's too hot for a British publisher.

As usual with documentaries on aircraft the BBC made a number of boo-boos, which I have respectfully drawn to their attention.   As I have observed before these boo-boos are doubly irritating, as media consultancy is one of my fields!  The problem is that documentary makers rarely get experts to review their programme at the final editing stage.

Brabazon-bashing has been a sport with the BBC for over 60 years.   Their latest programme repeats the old canard that the Brabazon would have been out of date when she entered service, as she was piston-engined.  This rather ignores the fact that transatlantic jet travel did not start until the Comet 4 in 1958.  As late as that year BOAC's schedules still featured the piston-driven Douglas DC-7C.  As the Brabazon was designed for overnight travel and had bunks and cabins for its passengers its comfort made up for a comparatively low cruising speed.   In any event its cruising speed was not much slower than its contempories.

The Bristol Centaurus engine had been targeted by German assets in the Air Ministry, some of whom I name in Spyhunter.  The great Roy Fedden, its designer, had been forced out at Filton.  Had he been able to develop the Centuarus as he wished it would probably knocked out 3,500 HP for the Brabazon, instead of 2,500 HP.  

Of course the BBC didn't dare mention that the German DVD had sabotaged the Rome Comets and the Bristol Britannia prototype.  Nearly 60 years later these are still 'no-go' areas for the Corporation, as much in awe of Germany today as it was in 1938, when it suppressed the voice of Churchill from the airwaves.  The programme rehashed the risible 'square windows' theory (neither Comet started her break-up sequence at the windows) and recycled the old Farnborough propaganda footage about explosive decompression, with seats crashing through the cabin, etc.  Of course the programme-makers did not point out that this footage was irrelevant, as the Comets blew up at 26,000 feet, i.e. well below their cruising altitude, when the cabin pressure was comparable to that on a DC-6 or a Stratocruiser.

There were smaller errors as well - whilst the commentary wittered on about "American aircraft" the video showed what looks suspiciously like a Languedoc (a French aircraft) and what is clearly a Merlin engine on a Canadian-built Argonaut.  

The Pietersen Affair Rolls On

Another lacklustre performance from England today at Durham.  Kevin Pietersen is the world's best one-day batsman.  Without him our line-up looks weak.   Playing what in reality were second XI's South Africa rolled us over pretty easily in the final ODI, and the first T20 today.   To cave in to Indian demands not to send the great KP to India (they know he's too good for their bowlers)  would be an outrage.  The ECB cannot expect punters to continue to roll up to watch sub-standard teams.   I don't think they have any conception of how angry English cricket-lovers are at them.




  1. "The programme rehashed the risible 'square windows' theory"
    Seems to be accepted fact:
    Great picture

  2. "suppressed the voice of Churchill from the airwaves"

    Presume you are referring to allegations that the actor Norman Shelley, more famously albeit mistakenly known as the voice of Larry the Lamb, repeated the speeches of Churchill on the BBC.

    This is an invention of David Irving who claimed he had interviewed Shelly in 1981. Unfortunately for Mr Irving, Shelley had died in 1980

  3. "Brabazon-bashing"

    I rather think the aerospace market of the time did all the bashing required to cancel the project. Not one order was received.