NORMALLY this column doesn’t return to a topic from the week before. But looking at the charred remains of common sense left after the latest media firestorm, it is worth asking two questions that relate to that Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand business.

The first concerns the usefulness or otherwise of the BBC; and the second wonders about the possible benefits of low culture.

I have had to stick up for the BBC before. There is no history between us, the BBC and I. No grubby notes have come my way; no favours have been elicited. In fact, the Corporation probably doesn’t even know of my existence, apart from that time years ago when we – by which I mean my wife – forgot to pay the TV licence.

No, these are merely the thoughts of a viewer or listener. I don’t like everything. Strangely, I appear to be alone in struggling with Strictly Come Dancing (or the opposition’s endless The X Factor, with its manufactured rows and lachrymose cheesiness).

But great enjoyment has come my ways thanks to the likes of Doctor Who, Spooks, Little Dorrit, Bleak House, assorted foodie programmes, Newsnight, all those wonderful David Attenborough documentaries, Tribe, Later With Jools Holland, and even, despite myself, the infuriatingly enjoyable Top Gear – as well as many hours of radio, especially endless curiosities on Four.

For all its faults, the BBC remains one national institution we do well. It is a world leader and a broadcasting institution like no other. This doesn’t make it right or above blame. At the very least, the latest farrago showed deep failures of editorial decision-making at Radio 2. But the BBC tells our own story like no one else, as shown by the forthcoming Remembrance season.

One problem that faces the BBC is that it cannot please all the people all of the time – yet all the people feel they own it, thanks to the licence fee. That fee is an anachronism, but is still strikes me as good value, considering the breadth of what the BBC does, and the fact that most of what it produces is of a high quality.

Yet the rampant, frothy-lipped BBC-haters in the national media are never happier than when over-hyping a row by taking one mistake and amplifying it endlessly, just to ‘prove’ the “BBC’s descent into the gutter” (copyright another bonkers article in the Daily Mail).

What scares me in all this is the thought that the narrow-minded, fusspot Mail could end up setting the cultural agenda, telling us what to watch.

In the wake of the latest debacle, the Mail berated the BBC over an old repeat of Mock The Week – one of my favourite Beeb productions – and tried to stir up a storm over the previous week’s Graham Norton show. Oh come off it, that’s just lame.

In that case, what are we meant to do – watch repeats of Terry And June (God, no) or bunker down to another mildewed episode of Dad’s Army? Besides, some shows that upset or cause controversy are very good indeed, such as BBC2’s The Thick Of It.

My favourite defence of the BBC is a simple one. It is that any other way of doing things would be worse. Adverts on the Beeb? No thanks, and besides it would hit the opposition. A sadly reduced BBC, in line with threadbare public service broadcasting in the US? I’d rather give up watching.

Yes, the Beeb is a cumbersome monolith and it gets things wrong, but it is a hugely worthwhile institution, and the Corporation’s sometimes craven managers should stick up for it more, rather than allowing themselves to be so roundly beaten by the usual suspects for single lapses.

As for low culture, it is possible to enjoy that and the higher stuff. Sometimes a bit of rude nonsense is just the thing. And one person’s outrage can be another’s harmless enjoyment.

The pursuit of low tastes can take us too far, but that doesn’t mean the journey should never be undertaken.