This humorous study of the BBC's complaints department offers many tasty morsels of insider knowledge, as well as a well-written overview of the structure, organisation and general bureaucratic chaos of one of Britain's best-loved and least understood institutions. Falling somewhere between the Civil Service and the Inland Revenue, "Auntie Beeb" has dominated the thoughts, actions and viewing habits of several generations. Coming from the unique perspective of former employee, Ed Harris travels its sinister but homely corridors with good-natured aplomb. Part historian, part raconteur, the author fills our heads with jargon, double-speak
and wry turns-of-phrase, alerting us all the while to not take it too seriously. People watch television and then they call to complain--it's so quaintly English. Gathering material that would fill a dozen books, Mr Harris sallies forth, bludgeoning us with the daily accumulation of horrors, both public and internal. The book is very coy when naming names, or more specifically not, but a generous bibliography points us in the direction of copious research. If there's one thing I personally missed within, it's the lack of autobiographical immediacy. The "I was there" factor is mostly withheld, the author preferring to distance himself from the related events. Clearly Mr Harris knows whereof he speaks and his tongue in cheek approach constantly undermines any statistical long-windedness. All in all the reader takes away an appreciation for the sheer stolid dependableness of the Beeb's operatives--dedicated, anonymous souls barricaded against "the coalface of accountability." One hopes Mr Harris has other books up his sleeves, now that he's got this lot off his chest. A perfect book for a July 11th birthday.