BOB GARFIELD: We're not going to compare the priorities of the BBC and American TV news, but Carla Garapedian probably could. She is an American and a former newscaster for the BBC. Now she is a producer for Britain's commercial channel 4, but in a recent Los Angeles Times article, Garapedian was effusive with praise for her former employer, mainly because the BBC, she wrote, made no attempt to poof her up like a talking Barbie Doll. Carla Garapedian joins us now from Los Angeles. Carla, welcome to OTM!
CARLA GARAPEDIAN: Thank you. It's, it's great to be here.
BOB GARFIELD: Now you're sitting in Los Angeles; I'm in Washington; I can't see you but I presume you have an eye tuck.
CARLA GARAPEDIAN: If I had an eye tuck at the BBC, I think I would have been hung and quartered. What they're concerned about is more how you pronounce words and foreign countries and foreign names. They want you to be cool. They want you to have a certain amount of gravitas, because what is being sold at the BBC is not the anchors but the BBC as a news organization -- the branding is in the BBC.
BOB GARFIELD: And from a cosmetic point of view, I gather from your piece that the BBC is a lot less hairstyle-intensive than NBC was.
CARLA GARAPEDIAN:I've described it as becoming a senior citizen overnight. I found myself ofttimes sitting in shadow, not having a makeup artist coming over and, and powdering my nose. So I, I found that a little difficult, but I got used to it.
BOB GARFIELD:Now there is some irony in that your glowing article in the L.A. Times about the BBC last week comes at a time when in the United Kingdom there is an increasing amount of criticism towards the BBC for precisely dumbing down the news and for reacting to market forces. Where-- have you detected any change in the way the BBC is doing things? Are they getting more like American networks rather than less?
CARLA GARAPEDIAN: I think in terms of their entertainment division, they are becoming more American. I think with regard to the news, news is sacrosanct there, and it is not yet succumbing to the American influence, and by that I mean treating news as "entertainment."
BOB GARFIELD:There's been grumbling from veteran female BBC correspondents like Kate Adie who say that all of a sudden Auntie Beeb is hiring pretty faces to the exclusion of not so pretty ones.
CARLA GARAPEDIAN:I think that there probably is a pressure. I think it's more for the presenters -- the on-air anchors, and I don't think that they are applying those, what I would say dumbing-down their standards, with regard to the correspondents. But to the people on air, I've noticed that they are-- [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: So they have a really ugly batch of correspondents -- is that what you're telling me?
CARLA GARAPEDIAN: No! [LAUGHS] No, it's the p-- [BOTH SPEAK AT ONCE]
BOB GARFIELD: You're telling me they're absolutely heinous, aren't you? You're saying--
CARLA GARAPEDIAN:I'm saying that the people in the field are the real people who are really down and dirty and they're doing their job, and one--once you put somebody in the studio there is the inclination to gloss them up. But I'll tell you -- I very much doubt that it will go towards the Pamela Anderson look. I think it's going to stay very much with the Miss Moneypenny look.
BOB GARFIELD: Carla Garapedian, thank you very much.
CARLA GARAPEDIAN: Thank you. I enjoyed talking to you, Bob.
BOB GARFIELD: Carla Garapedian is a documentary producer for England's Channel 4 and a former news presenter for BBC World.