This article first appeared on Reaction.

Sellafield’s Toxic Culture, BBC News Channel & iPlayer

This film is only eleven minutes long, but it tells a very worrying story. Sellafield ought to be the safest place in the country. It needs to be given what happens on its premises. It ought to be a working environment where people not only feel safe from the toxic materials stored there, but also able to work with colleagues in an atmosphere of mutual respect. This film demonstrates that is far from the case, with multiple incidents of racism, misogyny, homophobia and workplace bullying rife. And it all leads one to think, well if they haven’t got that sort of thing under control, how can we be confident they are looking after the nuclear waste properly?

The evidence provided in this film demonstrates that Sellafield’s management is deficient, at least in its HR policies. The BBC were leaked letters and interviewed a dozen members of staff with justifiable complaints about Sellafield’s approach to it s staff. Some of the details were horrific, especially the tolerance of racial slurs. A human resources consultant to Sellafield, hired in 2017, detailed many of the complaints. She described Sellafield as a “ticking time bomb because of the cultural issues and no one seems to be holding them to account.” Her contract was terminated days after she submitted a report critical of the Sellafield HR department. She’s now taking them to court alleging that she was let go for ‘whistleblowing’. Sellafield is contesting the case.

The big issue here is that there are worries that the culture at Sellafield discourages employees from coming forward if they have concerns about the running of the plant. Think about that for a moment, and think of the consequences. If you saw the series ‘Chernobyl’ on Sky Atlantic you will fully understand the ramifications. A staff survey, leaked to the BBC showed exactly how worrying this is, with a dramatic drop in the number of staff who said they felt they could come forward and speak out without fear of reprisal.

As a staff member said: “At Sellafield you’ve got two really dangerous elements. You’ve got toxic materials and a toxic culture. You put the two together and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.”



Murray Walker: A Life in the Fast Lane, iPlayer

The great thing about iPlayer is that it can revive programmes from years gone by at a moment’s notice. It was great to see the BBC show this wonderful programme about Murray Walker’s long and fantastic life. And what a life. He was to Formula 1 what Richie Benaud was to cricket and Dan Maskell to tennis. When he retired as the BBC’s main Forumla 1 commentator the sport never seemed quite the same again. That is, of course, if you classify F1 as a sport… but let’s leave that debate for elsewhere.

OK, maybe not. I’ve never really ‘got’ the appeal of a sport where it’s the cars which really determine who wins more than the ability of the driver. Of course the driver plays a role, but not in the traditional role of the sportsman or woman who is integral to whether they, or their team wins. If all the cars were identical, it would be much  more interesting and it would prove that the best driver had won. Nowadays, it’s the best car which invariably wins. There, I got that out of my system.

This bio-documentary concentrates on his decades as a commentator on all sorts of different motorsports, not just F1. However, we also learn about his war record and his life in the world of advertising, which was his day job in the years when commentary was only a part time activity.

Perhaps the most moving part of the programme was the section about the death of Ayrton Senna. Walker had to commentate on events live and he did it in the most sensitive way. It’s not something you can prepare for, and you’re walking a tightrope, knowing that one word out of place would be an absolute disaster.

This programme was first shown in 2011, but was reshown on Tuesday of this week, only three days after Murray died at the ripe old age of 97. He was one of a kind.