Rowan Atkinson’s ‘creative freedom’ fallacy… Because James Bond and Countryfile aren’t actually the same thing

by Stephen Tall on February 22, 2012

The Guardian reports today:

The BBC should have been free to drop Miriam O’Reilly from Countryfile without attracting any accusations of age discrimination, according to comedian Rowan Atkinson, in a controversial intervention into the debate about the lack of older women on television.

It appears, though, that Rowan Atkinson has confused two concepts: ‘creative freedom’ and ‘unjustifiable discrimination’. Slightly bizarrely he’s chosen to expose his confusion by writing a letter to BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show:

Atkinson said O’Reily’s complaint was no more sensible than “Pierce Brosnan complaining that he was sacked from the role of James Bond for being too old” and that true creative freedom for both Bond films and Countryfile could only mean that producers should have complete artistic latitude.

Mr Atkinson’s an intelligent man, I’m sure. So I assume he can tell the difference between a fictional feature film (that’s James Bond, Rowan) and a factual TV programme (that’s Countryfile).

It’s one thing for a commercial film director to decide he wants to cast a white, youngish guy as James Bond. It’s quite another for a BBC producer to ditch a presenter because he doesn’t like the look of them anymore.

That’s not ‘political correctness gawn mad’; that’s creating a level, merit-based playing field.