'Woke' BBC is 'digging its own grave', says former equality tsar

Graziano Di Prima and Johannes Radebe performed the first same-sex dance on Strictly Come Dancing(Photo: BBC)

The BBC's "increasingly 'woke' behaviour is putting the broadcaster's future at risk, the former head of the equality commission has warned.

Writing in The Times, Trevor Phillips criticised the introduction this year of the first same-sex couples on Strictly Come Dancing and suggested that some programming was off-topic. 

He questioned the BBC's "morbid obsession with the prime minister's private life and his past writings, despite the fact that neither has the remotest bearing on the nation's future". 

The BBC's handling of the backlash against presenter Naga Munchetty when she suggested that Donald Trump's comments about ethnic minority congresswomen also came under fire, with Phillips saying that it had "left a cloud over its attitude to race". 

"Worst of all, the increasingly 'woke' behaviour by the corporation is endangering the central justification for special treatment, which is its universal reach," he said.

"The recent preoccupations of The Archers, for example — domestic abuse and coercive control, historical child abuse, and now rewilding and climate change — all have their place. But they do not sit at the centre of most people's lives.

"The BBC has to recognise social change, sure, but it is not the institution's role to lead it; speculating about same-sex couples on Strictly, when the ballroom dancing world has not yet considered such a change, feels like putting the political cart before the cultural horse.

"Nobody needs Auntie to try on her niece's six-inch stiletto heels." 

He suggested that the BBC was only fuelling the argument to axe its unpopular licence fee in the age of Netflix.

Elsewhere, Phillips, who is now a documentary-maker, said he missed the power he had wielded heading up the equality commission when he tell schools, town halls and other public spaces that "yes, Jesus could star in the school Nativity plays, no one in their right mind should use the term 'Winterval', and wishing Muslims, Buddhists or Wiccans a happy Christmas would not offend them".

He added: "I would reassure the high priests of modern Yuletide — the managers of shopping centres — that allowing the Salvation Army to play Christian carols came nowhere near breaching religious discrimination laws."