This year marks the 50th anniversary of two of the United Kingdom’s most famous pop-culture creations; the James Bond films, and the sci-fi series Doctor Who. Both have survived and thrived through five decades of changing cultural tastes. The programs have stood the ultimate test of any institution; to outlast the life-time or active involvement of its founders or any principal individual.
Which, when you think about it, kinda sucks. Apparently, a series of movies about a fictional British spy and a show about an alien time/space traveler, are more durable than the political party that has ruled Syria for the exact same amount of time that those two entities have been in existence. The first James Bond movie came out in 1962, Doctor Who first aired in 1963, and the Baathists seized power in Syria on 8th March,1963 (a date drilled into the head of every single Syrian school child). And yet there’s no question whatsoever which institutions are stronger.
I love the BBC. It is the most impartial and professional news organization in the world. I always make it a point to catch the discussion program Dateline London every Saturday on the World Service. Every episode consists of a panel of London based foreign and British journalists, and is presented by Gavin Esler, whose professionalism is exceeded only by….the angry and loud debating style of a regular panelist, Abdel Bari Atwan, editor of the Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper, and the archetypal angry, frustrated, loud, feels-hes-entitled-to-everything-leftist Arab (usually Palestinian).