Life Imitates Art: Mel Brooks' UK Template - More Money From a Flop than a Hit

13/11/2012 13:31 GMT | Updated 12/01/2013 10:12 GMT

Seeing how failure is rewarded in Britain reminds me of the riotous Mel Brooks film The Producers, where accountant Leo Bloom reasoned that under the right circumstances a play could be more profitable as a flop than as a hit.

The fate of the now former BBC Director General George Entwistle sort of proves Bloom's theory. For his 54 days on the job he was awarded a year's salary of £450,000 as severance pay and an £877,000 pension.

Boy was I stupid. For more than 40 years I struggled as a journalist making ends meet doing a variety of news jobs just to score 30 minutes of fame in Britain. In the end I wound up a tired old hack without a decent pension, just a hefty divorce settlement.

During three decades here I never learned the road to riches was simply a good gift of gab...which was really strange since that 30 minutes of fame was as a talk radio presenter and rent-a-gob to the broadcast media. No, I never understood not to waste my time applying for shop level newsroom jobs.

I should have been setting my sights higher at top-level management positions. All that was needed was a custom fitted suit and a great line of BS. I could have been in and possibly out in short order...but with a super parting gift for my trouble. I mean think about it. Running a major UK firm has to be on a par with being a reality TV contestant. Yet its far better paying than being kicked out of the Big Brother House.

All this isn't new. Even before the financial meltdown, the multi million pound golden handshakes were being doled out to failed corporate executives, the corporate rationale being to entice more future failures, industry had to show how failure was rewarded.

To be fair to poor, (wrong term) unfortunate Entwistle, he was more a scapegoat than incompetent. And that's for two reasons. First, he wasn't on the job long enough to be deemed incompetent and second, the once infallible BBC was in a panic over its editorial shortcoming regarding the mushrooming Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal. Someone had to get the blame...Jeremy Paxman?...No, he's too important...blame the chaos on the DG.

When newspapers, decent newspapers, make terrible errors they will print retractions, pay libel damages and move on to the next defamation. But, the BBC, like some religions, thinks of itself as being infallible. That's partly because it has to continually prove the license fee you are being forced to pay is worth the slap in the face for democracy. When has there ever been a vote on the license fee?

So, when something such as child abuse and wrongly accused peers involve the BBC in its own scandal, its difficult for it to move on and out. For one thing its rivals in the media have a field day. The media becomes the story. And, a massive payout to a new DG who hadn't even settled into his office is frosting on top of the cake.

'Will the BBC survive? Is Newsnight on the chopping block? Is Paxman on the chopping block? Will Chris Patten be next on the chopping block?" This is a sampling of how this story has been playing.

And I must admit its makes me envious and pissed off that I missed the boat and never had a chance to be on the chopping block. On the other hand, they are looking for a new DG...just polish up the old CV, get that custom suit and work on an attractive cover letter. And if I don't get an interview I can claim age discrimination and may get a pay out to keep me quiet. This brings to mind a vintage UK TV drama. Remember "Boys from the Black Stuff." "Gis a job. I can do that job. DG? I'm a DG. Bank details? Here are my bank details."