It was Private Eye, some years ago, who nicknamed former Spectator and both Telegraph's editor Charles Moore as 'TV's Charles Moore. This was, one supposes, a reference to his occasional (and, if I recollect, somewhat stilted) appearances on political programmes.
There is, then, some comic irony that yesterday, in Hastings Magistrates' Court, Moore should have been found guilty of refusing to pay his television license and was fined £262 with £545 costs. His argument, not accepted at law, was that presenters Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand were in breach of the BBCs charter by making lewd remarks on radio about actor Andrew Sachs (Manuel in 'Fawly Towers') and Sachs's granddaughter with whom Brand had occasionally slept.
Both Moore and those who advised him legally were wrong. It was firstly obvious that he would lose as there is a statutory requirement to pay your TV license regardless of content if you possess a television set. So his lawyers simply collected their money.
On the relative merits of Ross and Brand, Moore is also out of touch. Regardless of their high (and undisclosed) fees, both brought to the BBC shows in which they took part a fairly quick wit and a good deal of humour. They would any day, even to those of us who live in the countryside and have fairly Conservative viewing tastes (Emmerdale, Strictly, Songs of Praise), be preferable to Cliff Michelmore or Michael Parkinson.
Ross and Brand had, to use the immortal words of Ron Davies, 'A moment of madness.' They have paid the price by being removed, or not having their contracts renewed, by the BBC. Few will lament their vast remuneration or passing, but there are far more deserving cases for BBC dismissal and bias, of which Andrew Marr and the Dimblebys are two shameful examples.
LIke Moore, I have not willingly watched the BBC since November, but this is because my late Dad's old Bang & Olufson packed up after twenty years and I could not be bothered to replace it. It still sits, like a disgarded relative or ornament, in the corner of the larder. I watch it sometimes, switched off.
The element in all this which is worrying me is that, since it became defunct, my wife has continued to pay the licence fee. Would I win a court case to get my money back? Somehow, i think not.