The notion has been sustained by everything imaginable, from being a code delivery service for, and indeed organiser of, Second World War resistance activities, to bringing into living rooms and kitchens royal and Olympic occasions, not to mention David Attenborough and the Dimblebys and not least the voice intonation known as BBC pronunciation.
However, the BBC has been a conduit for delivery of almost everything in Britain since it was established as the state broadcaster back in the early 1920s and accorded Royal Charter status in 1927 and, commensurate with its upgrade, its boss got the grand title of director general.
Efforts later on, post-Second World War, by lesser bodies to construct themselves as radio broadcasters found these stymied because they were labelled “pirates” and were denied licences.
So, essentially, there is no difference at all between the British BBC (and it is indeed British, otherwise it wouldn’t be thus titled) and broadcasting services in other countries which are often accused by the British of being “government mouthpieces”.
Therefore it was no surprise the BBC would be used in defence of the status quo during Scotland’s independence referendum.
To argue that it wasn’t and that it maintained a neutrality simply constitutes that kind of self-deception that Britain is quite known for and is a cause of some international, and domestic, chuckling.
At best during the referendum it tried to portray a front of impartiality by providing an impression of not being as harsh on the Yes campaign as it could have been.
But there are many documented instances of its inability to be a disinterested observer, and the instance of Alex Salmond taking the trouble to answer Nick Robinson (“Alex Salmond brands Nick Robinson ‘a disgrace’”, your report, 24 August) and to subsequently be accused by his questioner of not answering is one such.
The accusation of “answer evasion” became one of the anti-Yes, anti-SNP slogan weapons of the indy-ref. It is still employed.