Team Waitrose Or Team BBC? Agnew Must Decide

You may have seen the cringingly awful Waitrose promo video that hit the net last week and then mysteriously disappeared.

If you didn’t see it then let Yates provide a brief summary.

“Starring” Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad doing the Full Kit W****rs thing in a Waitrose store with BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew providing TMS style commentary.  The advert featured Jimmy rubbing an apple on his groin a la polishing the ball, Stuart diving to catch something dropped by a shopper, David “Bumble” Lloyd as a delivery driver and a nauseating name check for Paul Downton right at the end.

Quite aside from acting stiffer than that seen in the original Thunderbirds (Yates has met the Scott Tracy Thunderbirds puppet), this 2 minute feature drove a knife into any claim that the BBC Cricket Correspondent may make to being impartial in matters regarding the ECB.

Yates made his views clear to the BBC on May 10th:

Waitrose are now sponsors of the England Cricket Team.  Their new advert features BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew providing less than impartial TMS style “commentary”.  The advert can be found here  [now set to private access].

The job of BBC cricket correspondent is one requiring impartiality, the ability to educate and inform BBC listeners through challenging the ECB and holding them to account.  How can Agnew voicing an ECB/Waitrose advert not be a conflict of interests?  This gives the impression that Agnew is a supporter of the ECB, something which is utterly inappropriate given the recent conduct of the ECB and Agnew’s apparent reluctance to challenge it.

Please advise what policies there are regarding BBC staff and appearances in non-BBC adverts.

Please advise what (if any) checks were made to ensure that Agnew’s participation in this advert did not breach BBC standards and guidelines. If not, why not?

Will the BBC allow its staff to participate in such promotional activities in the future?

As a result of this Jonathan Agnew’s impartiality and judgement are now open to question in ways that was never the case when the late Christopher Martin-Jenkins was in the role.

What the hell happened to the investigative journalist who exposed the discussions between Doug Cowie and Darrell Hair in the aftermath of Ovalgate?  That was excellent and Reithian journalism, educational and informative.  This “advert” was awful, compromising Agnew’s impartiality and thus damaging the reputation of BBC cricket coverage.

Today Yates received a reply from the BBC Complaints department:

Thank you for contacting us about Jonathan Agnew.

We have investigated your complaint regarding the video that you viewed on Youtube and have discussed your concerns with the BBC Radio Sport team.

When Jonathan provided the voiceover for this short film he believed it was a light hearted piece of comedic content intended only for internal use by Waitrose. He was not paid a fee for his work. As soon as the film entered the public domain on the internet, Jonathan alerted us and worked with Waitrose to ensure the content was taken down from the Waitrose and ECB websites.

Along with other BBC presenters, Jonathan has written a regular column for Waitrose Weekend magazine for several years, which is in line with BBC Guidelines. This is subject to regular reviews. In the light of the changing circumstances with regard to Waitrose, namely the company’s sponsorship of English cricket which commenced in May 2014, Jonathan is reviewing his relationship with the Waitrose Weekend magazine and will stop writing the column for the time being, pending a formal review by the BBC.

I hope this explains our current position and I would like to thank you once again for contacting us about this.

As expected the response doesn’t answer all the questions posed.  Regardless of whether or not Agnew took the Waitrose shilling, the perception is reinforced that the BBC cricket correspondent is in thrall to the ECB sponsors and consequently will not hold the ECB to account as one might expect.

Was a written assurance given by Waitrose that the video would be kept internal to the company?  It should have been.  Whilst the video isn’t accessible to the likes of you and Yates, it seems still to be on YouTube so it hasn’t been deleted.  All it takes is one slip and bingo, the video is back available for all to see.

Yates did not know (and quite frankly did not care) about Agnew’s regular column for the Waitrose Weekend magazine.  That was done in line with BBC guidelines.  To preserve whatever perception of a desire for impartiality remains Yates thinks it best that this arrangement be ended permanently.

Despite the BBC reply it still remains unclear whether or not the “advert” was in line with BBC guidelines.  Yates believes that the BBC cricket correspondent should not be involved in anything which brings their impartiality into question.

Only time will tell if Jonathan Agnew will be truly impartial in the future rather than defending the status quo.

The BBC and Jonathan Agnew have been put on notice.  There’s a decision to be made – Team Waitrose or Team BBC?  A choice must be made, there can be no balancing act without further damaging impartiality and credibility.

To quote the end of “Things To Come” – which shall it be?

2 thoughts on “Team Waitrose Or Team BBC? Agnew Must Decide”

  1. Pompous much? I’d suggest you getting a life, you’ve too much time on your hands.

    1. I have a life thanks very much and I don’t need it polluted by supposedly impartial and investigative journalists being puppeteered by a commercial organisation instead of adhering to Reithian values.

      Agnew and the BBC are on notice.

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