Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Delingpole

Magazine article The Spectator

Television: James Delingpole

Article excerpt

My favourite bit of The Great European Disaster (BBC4, Sunday) was the lingering shot that showed golden heads of corn stirring gently in the breeze. It was captioned 'Europe'.

I cannot even begin to describe what a powerful effect this had on my subconscious. It was worthy of Leni Riefenstahl. Indeed, when I experimentally turned off the colour, it was Leni Riefenstahl. 'Bloody hell!' I thought to myself. 'Suddenly it all makes sense.'

But my journey of discovery and enlightenment was only just beginning. I haven't yet told you what the Ukrainian peasant said. I forget his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, 'When I think of Europe, I think of the ample bosom of the most loving mother since the Virgin Mary; of peace, harmony, serenity, abundant harvests, fantastical tractor production rates...'

None of this emotive stuff, though, would have had nearly as much impact if it hadn't been backed up by some serious and very convincing intellectual arguments as to why -- as the programme's thesis had it -- the break-up of the European Union would be a disaster for us all. Here are a few of them:

Dead body. By dwelling at great length on a grotesque photograph of a rotting, discoloured corpse in a pit, the programme illustrated that thanks to the EU we have never experienced hideous conflicts like the Yugoslav civil war, where the photo was taken.

Ritterkreuz. A distinguished elderly German woman showed us the Iron Cross that her father had won in the Western Desert, and the one her grandfather had won in the first war. Thanks to the EU, she asserted, their descendants will never have to fight in any more wars. Hurrah!

Conchita Wurst. The victory of a bearded man in a dress in the Eurovision Song Contest, the programme assured us, was an utterly magnificent thing which might never have happened without the EU.

Planes will fall out of the sky. This was illustrated courtesy of the light comic acting skills of Angus Deayton, sitting in a pretend plane next to a sweet little girl who had just been deported by Prime Minister Nigel Farage (even more evil than he was in Ukip: The First 100 Days , apparently) explaining to her how lovely the EU was. Bizarrely, even though the plane was obviously doomed, none of the passengers seemed that scared, which rather defeated the object of the metaphor.

Well, you get the idea. I have seen some dismal, clodhoppingly propagandistic, lefty dross on the BBC in my time -- Richard Curtis's The Girl in the Café ; Countryfile ; anything on Gaza or global warming -- but The Great European Disaster truly was in a league of its own. …

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