A row of truly British proportions has broken out and middle England is in meltdown. The BBC has announced the discontinuation of blanket cost-free licence fees for the over-75s, instead only the poorest pensioners, those on Pension Credit, will continue to receive a free licence fee, whilst those who blow the £154.50 they currently save on minibreaks in Bologna, Saga cruises and Wimbledon ground passes will have to start picking up the bill.
The announcement came following evidence that the £745 million annual cost of maintaining the status quo would have taken up a fifth of its budget, equal to the total amount it spends on all of BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, the BBC News channel, CBBC and CBeebies. Rational, objective commentators have hailed this as a sensible decision; channel closures should remain a last resort.
However, predictably, boomers have been quick to dig out their iPads and make their opinions on the matter felt. The day after this announcement, for example, the Daily Mail, the official mouthpiece of indignant retirees, ran a front page: WE’LL GO TO PRISON OVER TV LICENCES. Aside from the usual slapdash attitude to details (licence fee infringements not carrying custodial sentences by law), the Mail continues the trend of stoking the bad blood between us pesky snowflakes and them in camp sanguine. Daily Mail heavyweights Peter Hitchens and Dominic Lawson (both boomers) waded into the argument describing it as a “BBC ruse” and a “horrible disgrace” amongst other such parochial hysteria.
Moreover, ITV’s Good Morning Britain, also quickly realised the crucial value of their own boomers in propping up their audience figures and so Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan did their best to appear heartbroken at the prospect of pensioners up and down the country having Songs of Praise switched off for good (let’s just say no Oscars will be coming their way).
I’m not writing this to debate the nature of this policy; as I see it, as by far the largest consumers of BBC content, as well as being some of the most financially stable members of society, it only seems fair that the end has come for those of us who only occasionally dip into The Apprentice or Killing Eve subsiding the boomers’ interminable Pointless viewing, whilst those living in poverty beyond Essential Waitrose continue to receive a free licence. Instead, I think it’s high time we challenged the strangle hold the boomers have over our media institutions, and resultant outrage culture at our ‘hedonistic me-first attitudes’. As someone who has spent some time in the queue for the Royal Academy and for boarding short-haul flights, I can assure you that it is in fact them with their sharpened elbows, Fit Flops and linen drapery who seem the keenest to get ahead.
It’s a bare faced cheek for them to demand our respect just because some of them vaguely remember rationing. It goes without saying that I have eternal respect and gratitude to our veterans who risked everything as little more than teenagers to deliver us from the ravages of Nazism – for their entitled offspring whose generational egocentricity has given us nothing more than accelerated climate breakdown and antibiotic resistance, less so. They have no comprehension that life just isn’t as easy for subsequent generations as it was for them: the most cursory of glances through The Telegraph reveals this: avocado brunches are blamed for the majority of societal woes, without which we’d all be homeowners in Zone 1 by the age of 23, it seems.
Boomers have sponged off their surrounding generations all their lives. As the real ‘Me Generation’, it is time they started to pay their way, the licence fee may well mean one-night fewer in Seville, but so be it. A generation whose global environmental, social and medical mess is ours to clear up can pay for their own television consumption at the very least.