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Back in the mid-'90s, during the heady days of Cool Britannia when new cable and satellite TV channels were, like June, busting out all over, I was living in the rather grand house of a senior executive at one such new, resolutely down-market enterprise.

I was a producer and director of arts programmes on what was still called terrestrial television, enduring a bit of a fallow period. Being broadly in the same industry, we would discuss where it was going. On more than one occasion this led to arguments, from which I usually emerged branded, dismissively, as an "elitist". 

Why? Well, I believed rather earnestly that covering the arts on TV was a worthwhile endeavour. I was the grammar school son of originally working-class parents and my knowledge of Benjamin Britten and Rudolf Nureyev had been significantly expanded by what I'd seen, sometimes by simple happy chance, on The South Bank Show and the BBC's Omnibus. It was these programmes which probably first got me into the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre, and from there into what will undoubtedly be a lifetime punctuated by such visits. 

My friend was having none of this. His new channel was not giving people what it condescendingly thought they should watch, he claimed, but what they actually wanted, and he had the focus groups to prove it. 

His channel's audience responded most positively to variations on a tits-and-arse theme, and it was a simple commercial duty to give it to them. He, of course, was a privately-educated, middle-class boy who wouldn't have dreamed of watching this stuff himself. He had already acquired his culture as a matter of upbringing. But no, I was the elitist in this universe, and my days were numbered.

I wish that George Walden had written his excellent 2006 book The New Elites: A Career in the Masses a decade earlier, as then I might have been able to make more sense of what was going on. A new caste was emerging, one which regarded Lord Reith as a jokey irrelevance. As it was, I was left feeling beleaguered and unable to make a convincing case in a country whose culture increasingly seemed to be on some kind of downwardly-aspirational kamikaze mission. 

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