…. or maybe it is just their way of getting their own back on Ben Bradshaw.
Either way the decision to have the real-life Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (played by himself), appear on an episode of Eastenders with the not-real Peggy Mitchell (played by Barbara Windsor) sets an interesting precedent. The BBC is, of course, supposed to be politically neutral and we are all used to the Tories frothing at the mouth about the Today programme being a nest of pinkos and Newsnight the cradle of the revolution. So why is the nation’s most popular soap giving airtime to a Conservative (or indeed any) Mayor of London? Will Ken Livingstone now make a cameo appearance as well? Or is this all intended as a subtle warning to the Cameronians that the BBC can play tough, and that, if there is too much talk about creaming off the licence fee and amending the BBC Charter, they will not hesitate to promote the arch-nemesis and Tory leader-in-waiting, Boris.
More to the point, how helpful is it to further blur the distinction between show business and politics? Maybe I am old-fashioned and at the risk of sounding like Tony Benn, but politics deals with serious matters and should be about issues. Soap operas are about entertainment, although they may be realistic and may on occasions deal with significant themes. Is the BBC performing any sort of publuc service by muddling the two together?