25 January 2009

A Salute to Stephen Fry

Posted by Dan Satterfield

For those of you who read this journal from outside the USA (and thank you by the way!), you will pardon me while I explain to the rest who Stephen Fry is.

In a world where most famous movie stars, and sports celebrities have an education level that is sadly lacking, it is refreshing to have a famous actor/comedian/writer/game show host, who is just the opposite! If you check out my Facebook  profile, you will see that under religious preference I put Stephen Fry!

Mr. Fry is not an easy person to describe. If you have ever watched Black Adder on PBS or BBC America, you have seen him. He is well known in the UK, and in Australia and Canada. While he is an excellent actor, and comedian, he is also a graduate of Cambridge. (Not that the two should be mutually exclusive!) He has a vocabulary to die for! His quiz show QI on BBC 1 is highly rated, and his dramatic series KINGDOM is rapidly becoming a classic.

However, what I like most about Stephen Fry is his relationship with his fans. He has a fabulous web site and is an avowed tech lover.

He of course uses a Mac! He has a bunch of them I understand!

I check out his podgrams and twitter page frequently.  I almost always learn something interesting when I do. Other than being a rabid Doctor Who fan , I really watch little TV.  Mr. Fry is an exception. (David Tennant: Just another year…please? The new guy doesn’t even have eye brows!)


My literary education has always been sorely lacking, and thanks to Stephen Fry, I am enjoying Oscar Wilde immensely. So, if you’re going to be a fan of someone, then a thoroughly decent and intelligent person like Fry is not a bad choice I think.

One last thing here. In one of his recent podgrams, Mr. Fry talks about the BBC, and a proposal to give some of the money from the lic. fee to Channel 4. He argues that this would be a mistake.  He is absolutely right.

You folks in the UK do not understand what a truly national asset you have in the BBC.


Thus ends the promised tongue lashing to you UK folks, that I mentioned in a previous post. I did warn you it was coming. You may return to the Archers now;).

While nearly every major  national, and international broadcaster has cut it’s staff of foreign corespondents back to nil, the BBC still covers the world.

They do it with a level of impartiality that is still the gold standard.

(For those that do not know: In the UK to watch TV, you have to buy a yearly license. No, I am not kidding. It costs about 130£. That money goes to the BBC to produce radio and TV programs. The BBC has no commercials. Think of PBS with money.)

All the tax money given to the Foreign Office to promote British values and culture, is peanuts, compared to what the BBC brings the UK just by being there. No, they are not perfect. However, the frequent claims of waste and inefficiency get nowhere with me. I have been to the Broadcast Centre in London, and have seen how they do things. Having worked in Broadcasting for 30 years, I can tell you that they are more efficient than American broadcasters by a mile!

For those in the UK: Yes, they do pay Jonathan Ross too much money, but they should give Stephen Fry a raise. So, perhaps it all balances out. Just think of the tax money you’re giving to Peter Mandelson. I rest my case.

If you want to hear an impassioned plea, by someone who knows how to use the English language properly, then listen to Stephen Fry’s podgram about it. You can find it on iTunes by searching for “Stephen Fry Podgram Episode 4 Broadcasting”. The podgrams are free.

From now on, I plan on using a new word I learned from watching,listening or reading Fry in each of my blogs. I really must improve my vocabulary! I will however promise to expatiate less in my next post! I have a twitter page myself now at http://twitter.com/danwhnt