By Alan Tristram
The BBC has rejected a campaign to put a statue of George Orwell outside Broadcasting House in London because the author is ‘too left-wing’.
George Orwell, one of the greatest 20th Century writers, worked as a journalist for the BBC during World War Two.
Among his greatest works are ‘1984,’ and Animal Farm.’ These books are the probably the most cutting indictments of Marxist totalitarianism ever written.
He’s been the subject recently of a campaign to get a statue in his honour outside BBC’s Broadcasting House in Portland Place, near Oxford Circus, in central London.
But, UK reports say, outgoing BBC Director General Mark Thompson turned down plans for the statue.
And the BBC has confirmed that plans for a statue in the piazza outside Broadcasting House have been turned down, saying the area already houses Mark Pimlott’s £1.6million work World.
The well-known broadcaster Baroness Joan Bakewell, who’s leading the campaign to honour ‘the greatest British journalist of his day’, says she put the idea to Mr Thompson in a meeting earlier this year.
‘Far too left-wing
She says: ‘I met Mark Thompson at a BBC reception and mentioned the project.
‘He said, ‘Oh no, Joan, we can’t possibly. It’s far too Left-wing an idea.’
Mr Thompson has been appointed chief executive of the New York Times Company, which publishes the New York Times, and will hand over to new BBC director general George Entwistle next month.
George Orwell (who’s real name was Eric Arthur Blair), produced radio programmes at Broadcasting House during WWII World War Two, before leaving to write Animal Farm and dystopian masterpiece ‘1984.’
Broadcasters leading campaign
The campaign to honour Orwell outside Broadcasting House, led by Joan Bakewell, has included other well-known broadcasters like Andrew Marr and James Naughtie.
A spokesperson for the Corporation added that there were plans to put the Orwell statue on a nearby site in Portland Place, which does not belong to the BBC.
A spokesperson said: ‘We cannot put the statue immediately outside New Broadcasting House as the BBC piazza already has artwork by Mark Pimlott built into the pavement which would be obscured.
‘We are, however, working with Westminster city council and those involved with the statue to find an appropriate location nearby.’
The statue was commissioned by the George Orwell Memorial Trust run by Ben Whitaker, a former Labour politician.
Orwell at the BBC
Orwell began working for the BBC in 1941, working as a Talks Producer for the Corporation’s Eastern Service.
He initially supervised broadcasts to India designed to counteract German propaganda, working full time for the BBC until 1943.
Martin Jennings, the sculptor commissioned to create it, told the Telegraph: ‘George Orwell is regarded as something of a patron saint of political journalism so his presence near the BBC could surely act as some kind of inspiration to all independent-minded broadcasters.’
ORWELL WAS ‘TOO LEFT-WING’? TRY READING ANIMAL FARM OR 1984
Fans of George Orwell may want to remind Mark Thompson of the hatred felt by many on the Left towards the author after his searing condemnation of Communism in Animal Farm and 1984.
Early in his career, Orwell certainly harboured disgust with aspects of imperialism and capitalism.
But these views changed dramatically during the Spanish Civil War when he was caught up in a bloody purge by Spain’s increasingly Communist-controlled Republican Government.
Writing on MailOnline, columnist Nigel Jones says: ‘The experience of being hunted by the secret police and seeing his comrades arrested, tortured and killed by the Spanish Stalinists and their Russian bosses gave Orwell an abiding horror of Marxism, Soviet Communism and Stalin’s many British apologists – including his own publisher, Victor Gollancz, who refused to publish Orwell’s account of his Spanish experiences “Homage to Catalonia” for fear of upsetting the Communists.’
Orwell saw what horrors could be committed in the name of ‘socialism’ and, although he did quit the BBC during the war to become literary editor of Left-wing Tribune magazine, he went on to publish the dystopian novels ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘1984,’ the most cutting indictments of Marxist totalitarianism ever written.
Mr Jones said: ‘A doughty warrior in the cause of liberty, free thought and political prose as clear as a glass pane, Orwell deserves his statue all right – but on second thoughts perhaps Mark Thompson is right.
‘Today’s BBC – aka the Ministry of Truth (from 1984) – might not be the best place for it after all.’