David Mitchell defends BBC over Naga Munchetty complaints controversy

The TV star said the BBC has done Britain an ‘enormous amount of good’.

Press Association
Last updated: 13 October 2019 - 8.20am

Comedian David Mitchell has defended the BBC for its recent handling of complaints against journalist Naga Munchetty, and said the corporation would be missed if it were axed.

The BBC’s director-general Lord Hall recently reversed a decision to partially uphold a complaint against the BBC Breakfast host for comments she made about US President Donald Trump.

Mitchell, who regularly appears on the BBC, said the corporation was the “envy” of the world and had done Britain an “enormous amount of good”.

“The BBC is obviously going through a difficult time. The trouble with the BBC is that the term ‘the BBC’ means so many things and to the BBC’s enemies it can mean whatever is convenient at any given time,” Mitchell said.

“The BBC is both the people that make the programmes and the bodies that say programmes shouldn’t have happened.

“The BBC is an individual producer and the BBC is the director-general.

“In the case of Naga Munchetty the BBC broadcast one thing and the BBC said it shouldn’t have, then suddenly the BBC said the BBC was wrong and should have broadcast that and the other BBC was right.

“It is a large organisation and those three letters can refer to any bit of it at any time.”

He added: “That is a problem is for the BBC. I think its existence, which is the envy of the world, has done this country and enormous amount of good.

“There is a question in these difficult political times with all sorts of anger online and financial constraints in terms of how the BBC can frankly defend itself and continue to be the institution that in my view it has always been.

“There are people criticising it from absolutely all sides at the moment but I am absolutely certain that if and when it goes we will regret it.”

Mitchell was speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival about the forthcoming publication of his latest book, Dishonesty Is The Second-Best Policy, in which he discusses Brexit, Donald Trump and the absurdity of the modern world.

He said David Cameron shouldered the blame for the divisions in the country today caused by Brexit.

“I think he has done a terrible thing for the country and is an awful prime minister,” he said.

Boris Johnson
David Mitchell was critical of Boris Johnson despite his ‘likeable’ persona (Alastair Grant/PA)

“Boris Johnson is desperate to get the record off him and to be fair to him he is giving it a good go.

“He called the referendum and thought it would go his way. I could see from his point of view it would deal with the divisions in the Tory Party.

“Let’s be clear that at the end of his huge geopolitical scheme to keep the Conservative Party united that David Cameron came up with, is the Conservative Party united?”

Mitchell said Boris Johnson had “charisma” and was “likeable”.

“The thing is he possesses other qualities which outweigh them,” Mitchell said.

“It seems to me he has no integrity at all and is a deeply dishonest, self-serving person who we can’t trust in that position of power. That’s my feeling about him.

“I think broadly speaking he is a talented performer and would be good at my job. I don’t think I would be good at his, but I am not saying I would be any worse than him.”

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