Why the BBC needs to stop preaching about “Oneness”

The Beeb's new buzzword branding needs to stop, says Alison Graham. NOW.

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“Wellness” and “mindfulness” – two words that deserve to be dangled in a harness over the raging pits of hell where they will be given just five seconds to explain why I shouldn’t send them straight into the fiery furnace. Now, though, we must make room for a third diabolical piece of inanity, “Oneness”.

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Just seeing it typed there on the page makes me dizzy with fury. So you can imagine I’m teetering on a twanging tightrope of annoyance because it’s BBC1’s new brand, its supposedly identifying buzzword, along with little films of people doing exercises and the chilly-looking sea-swimmers.

“Oneness”, like the hated “wellness” and “mindfulness” is one of those horrible made-up words designed to make us feel all fluffy. No wonder we’re all as soft as meringues, a country of wet wimps who have to be chucked under the chin and told repeatedly by our public service broadcaster how lovely and matey we all are. How we might be different in our own very special ways, yet we are really all the same. I’m sorry to be vulgar, but really, puke, puke, puke. It sounds like a version of North Korea, only with Care Bears.

That’s because the idea behind this new “Oneness” campaign, according to the BBC, is “to celebrate both the diversity of the British people and the things we have in common”.

But why? You’re a broadcaster that we all pay for, BBC1, not a cult. Make programmes, stop preaching. It’s the faintly patronising, patrician air that irritates, too. The BBC always does this when it gets an idea about anything, it behaves as if no one has ever thought of it before (like when it celebrates music, the arts, or whatever).

No one refers to “Aunty BBC” any more but maybe we should start again because it’s behaving like a benevolent, yet right-on hipster relative who knows exactly what’s good for us. We will celebrate our diversity because Groovy Aunty BBC says so. But I’m sure, because we are nice people, that we are all grateful to live in a country where everyone, in theory at least, is allowed to flourish, whoever they might be or wherever they might be from.

Does any of us really need BBC1, the mighty, lofty cultural arbiter that brings us Mrs Brown’s Boys and Still Open All Hours, to insist that we are all in this together?

Then there are those little films. I bow to no one in my admiration for the director, the photographer Martin Parr who does the best British seaside photos, but again the concept of little bits of quirky Britain making one magnificent whole makes me feel queasy.

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This is no slight on the exercising people or the swimmers who all seem to be having a marvellous time, and good for them. But this determination to push together a massive viewership in some kind of false camaraderie and sense of togetherness rings hollow. Just leave us alone to watch telly.