BBC flagship still leader of entertainment fleet

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SPORTS Personality Of The Year.

A multi-layered orgy of self congratulation, a celebration of the best of the sporting world’s achievements or a bit of both?

To watch or listen to the BBC you could be forgiven for thinking that they invented, organised and actually competed in the 2012 Olympic Games.

And every other sport, come to think of it.

The summer-long BBC gloating at the corporation’s unfettered access to Olympians and all competitions doesn’t seem any more appropriate now than it did in August.

But those sparkling five gold rings have not been forgotten by Christmas as cynics predicted.

No matter how smug some might be about their role and their perceived place at the heart of Olympic history you have to admit that the BBC’s coverage was absolutely sensational.

Sunday night’s highlights, superstars and pyrotechnics - its grandeur even surpassing the SPOTY that took place at Sheffield Arena three years ago - will have cost an absolute fortune.

Years in the planning, manned to within an inch of its life, the annual extravaganza has become a big hitter at the top of TV’s established agenda.

Situated status-wise somewhere between Panorama and Strictly Come Dancing SPOTY manages to fuse real-life sporting heroism with fantasy frocks, the sweat and grunt of the action with smart suits and plunging necklines.

Knock it all you like but what other programme can have you reaching for tissues every 10 minutes to wipe away tears of joy?

We re-live the noise, the colour and the absolute best of human endeavour as the glorious see their moments of triumph replayed.

The drama and excellence of sport at this level is simply irresistible, draining our emotions one minute, raising us to the stars the next.

Victorian Britain was responsible for the creation of many institutions and practices that still shape our lives today, some for good others less so, according to one’s persuasion and politics.

But they didn’t half hit the jackpot when it came to sport.

Though some might decry its ultra-competitive nature and others see a million things we might better spend the money on, the organisation and codification of sport started in the often priveleged fields of Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries and created some of the most powerful social and financial forces on earth.

We did that.

For all our bewhiskered pomposity and children-up-chimneys darkness, Britain gave the world organised football, golf, rugby union, cricket, tennis, athletics and hockey as rules and codes were applied in a way only the fastidious, bossy and brash Victorians could.

Now the BBC, in many ways the hierarchical descendants of some of the great 19th century corporations, brings us the modern action from all those sports, just part of the beeb’s force for civilisation that gives this country a common identity and social agenda many other nations lack.

Some see that agenda as part of the political control of the country, others as an emblem of our freedom. You pays your licence fee, you takes your choice.

But the BBC and SPOTY are part of our culture.

Here’s to the flawed brilliance of both.