When a very popular man stands up and says what needs to be said…
For 30 years he was one the BBC’s star presenters, stitching up celebrities and subjecting guests on his show to the horrors of the gunge tank. But now Noel Edmonds himself could be in the line of fire, after he announced that he was leading a boycott of the television licence fee.
The former Noel’s House Party presenter, who accused the BBC of “hectoring and threatening” the public into paying the £139.50 annual charge, could be stripped of his ceremonial title of Deputy Lieutenant of Devon, after confessing to his criminality, The Times has learnt.
In an interview at the weekend, Edmonds declared that for four months he had refused to pay the licence fee, a legal requirement for anyone who owns a television, adding that he was prepared to be prosecuted for evading the tax.
Eric Dancer, Lord-Lieutenant of Devon, said yesterday that he would investigate whether Edmonds should lose his position, which carries the blessing of the Queen.
Edmonds assumed the title – which involves assisting the Lord-Lieutenant in arranging the monarch’s visits to Devon, leading the local magistracy and hearing grievances between citizens and tax officials – in 2004.
Mr Dancer told The Times: “If a deputy did do something that was a criminal offence, I’m sure that people who commit serious misdemeanours are not allowed to continue to serve.”
Edmonds made his remarks in an interview with the Breakfast show on BBC One on Saturday, the day before hosting a one-off show on Sky aimed at helping to mend “broken Britain”.
Referring to advertisements by the TV Licensing Authority that threaten prosecution of those who fail to pay the fee, Edmonds said: “I worked for the BBC for 30 years. When I was there it promoted the licence fee by saying how wonderful it was. But now Auntie’s put boxing gloves on.
“I am not going to have the BBC or any other organisation threatening me. I’ve cancelled my TV licence and they haven’t found me. Nobody’s coming knocking on my door. There are too many organisations that seem to think it is OK to badger, hector and threaten people.”
The BBC launched a public consultation last week after receiving complaints that advertisements which warned, “Your town, your street, your home . . . it’s all in our database”, amounted to bullying.
Noel’s HQ, screened last night on Sky One, was aimed at promoting a “fairer, more caring Britain”. Edmonds told viewers: “You clearly feel frustrated and at times angry at the tidal wave of new rules, regulations and laws that have been introduced in the name of health and safety, security or the environment. Well, the politicians have had their turn, and now it’s ours. It’s down to you, me and them, and to everyone who wants to live in a more caring society.”
From the most unexpected quarter…someone who could actually rally millions of people says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!