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It's practically Orwellian: The BBC is installing a George Orwell statue

It's practically Orwellian: The BBC is installing a George Orwell statue
George Orwell will be honored for his journalism at the BBC, which he quit in 1943. (Randall Enos)

More than 70 years after he resigned from the BBC, George Orwell is coming back to the broadcasting company.

A bronze statue of the "Animal Farm" and "Nineteen Eighty-Four" novelist will be installed outside the BBC's London headquarters, the Guardian reports.

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Orwell, whose fiction dealt presciently with the ironies of false statements masquerading as truth and the power of mass media to circulate them, was also a journalist. He worked for the BBC for more than two years on radio broadcasts to India, which was under the control of the British empire at the time.

His 1943 resignation included this note: "I was wasting my own time and the public money on doing work that produces no result. I believe that in the present political situation the broadcasting of British propaganda to India is an almost hopeless task."

At the time, World War II raged, and England forced food exports from India to support Europe. Meanwhile, 3 million Indians perished in a famine.

Orwell's statue has been in the works for several years, but was considered dead in the water as recently as four years ago, the Guardian reports, due to Orwell's still-controversial reputation.

It will go into the BBC's  New Broadcasting House in Westminster in central London. The sculpture will depict Orwell holding a cigarette with one hand on his hip. An inscription on the wall behind the statue will read, "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear."

The City Council of Westminster voted to approve the project. Those helping to fund it include playwright Tom Stoppard and comedian Rowan Atkinson.

BBC historian Robert Seatter is enthusiastic about the Orwell tribute, saying: "He reputedly based his notorious Room 101 from 'Nineteen Eighty-Four' on a room he had worked in whilst at the BBC, but here he will stand in the fresh air reminding people of the value of journalism in holding authority to account."

Orwell's memories of his time at the BBC were not fond. In his diary, he described it as "something half-way between a girls' school and a lunatic asylum."

The statue will be designed by artist Martin Jennings, who said he's excited to begin work on the project: "Orwell was not only a paragon of political journalism but an ideal subject for a sculptor: loomingly tall, skinny as a rake, forever fag in hand, body leaning in to make a point. He wore the kind of clothes that might have spent their off-duty hours hanging from a nail in the potting shed."

The sculpture will be installed in an area popular with the BBC's resident cigarette smokers. Orwell was himself a heavy smoker, and died at the age of 46 of tuberculosis.

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