Loach, giving the keynote speech at the London Film Festival, ridiculed senior TV executives, such as James Murdoch using last year’s Edinburgh TV Festival’s annual MacTaggart Lecture to sound off. Loach said: “I knew Jimmy MacTaggart and I have to tell you Mr Senior Executive, Mr Junior Murdoch, Mr Big-Head-of-Whatever-You-Are, you are no Jimmy MacTaggart. Jimmy would have been horrified to think his name was taken to justify the overblown self-importance of these people.” BBC director general Mark Thompson gave this year’s Mactaggart speech. Loach, who began his career at the BBC, wished “good riddance” to senior Beeb executives recently made redundant and said more should follow. The BBC is stuffed with executives who rule by committee and stifle all original ideas, he said. Loach said the BBC has become the enemy of creativity, run by “time servers” who have reduced what was meant to be a National Theatre of the air to “a grotesque reality game.” He welcomed this week’s announcement of job losses for Sharon Baylay, the highly paid marketing chief, and deputy director Mark Byford, who leaves his £475,000-a-year post with a £3.7 million pension pot and a pay-off of almost £1 million. “I’m pleased to see — we all are — that people are going to lose their jobs, albeit that they need a £1 million handshake to get out the door. Great, good riddance, maybe a few more will join them. But let’s start cutting further down,” Loach said.
The 74-year-old director called for cinemas to be publicly-owned. He said it was a “disaster” that British cinema-goers are fed a popcorn diet of Hollywood movies, while European and world cinema accounts for just 2-3% of cinema screenings. He compared the situation to walking into a library and finding 63-80% of shelves stocked with American fiction, while every other writer in the world has to share 3% between them. Loach said: “They could be programmed by people who care about films … not by people who care about fast food, which I guess is most of our cinema managers.”
Loach, who turned down an OBE award from the Queen in 1977, questioned fellow directors and producers accepting knighthoods and other honors. He said: “The woman you are kneeling before represents most of what is wrong with this country — inherited privilege and inherited wealth. Let’s have a bit more dignity than crawling before that woman, please.”