BBC moles making the case for charity

Nick Cater

Don't tell anyone I told you, but isn't it marvellous that the non-profit sector has some very influential secret agents among the BBC's finest editors, producers and reporters?

With The Apprentice soon to reach its sordid climax, can you think of a better way to undermine business and implicitly promote alternatives than the image of Sir Alan Sugar and his yelping pack of dog-eat-dog recruits?

At least as good for our purpose, although presently absent from our screens, is Dragons' Den, starring our best 'mole', the BBC economics correspondent Evan Davies, in which business hopefuls needing investment line up to be abused.

In both programmes, the mere possession of large sums of money is the excuse for astonishing arrogance and the savage wielding of power to exploit any weakness and do down everyone else in the room. In neither case do any positive values appear. Co-operation is at best a short-term ruse, back-stabbing is inevitable, honesty is seen as a fatal error, fair treatment is viewed as merely the sign of a fool and greed is made to look as good as Gordon Gekko once claimed.

To these people, nothing exists except the accumulation of wealth for personal benefit. The needs of others appear to be of no great concern.

The potential of everything and everyone is reduced to how much cash can be extracted from them.

In acting up for the cameras, Sugar et al offer an image both base and brutal. That's exactly the point - by portraying the least attractive examples of the profit motive, our subversive BBC friends fulfil its public service remit in full.

Whatever the faults of charities - you list them, there's not enough space in this column - their fundamentally unselfish commitment to others, from those in desperate need to all those causes unpopular, ignored or obscure, cannot be denied. It is merely a pity that those secretly loyal to our cause have yet to develop shows that compare and contrast the inner workings of leading charities - warts and all - with the sheer nastiness of The Apprentice or Dragons' Den.

First to appear could be Great Ormond Street Hospital, given how Sir Alan - who parades his philanthropy in TV adverts to prove what a generous geezer he is with other people's money - used the charity in a ridiculous task in a recent programme.

Meanwhile, all we can say to our brave BBC moles is this: "Keep digging."

- Nick Cater is a consultant and writer:

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