There is nothing so unlovely, so car-boot sale, as stale satire, as In the End (Radio 4) depressingly testifies.
And yet the BBC is clearly enthralled with Mark Tavener's endless fount of comedy thrillers - In the Red, In the Balance and In the Chair.
Tavener's themes, as ever, are the corruption and incompetence of the media, the police and the government - a trio of targets so broad that the law of averages dictates that eventually at least one randomly dispatched barb will score.
And yet the strike rate this time is not encouraging.
In the End begins with the PM morosely strumming his guitar, a fact that may have had some satirical bite when Tony Blair first succeeded the tightly buttoned John Major, but that should now be consigned to the department of old news cuttings.
The series' hero is veteran BBC crime reporter George Cragge, the kind of boozy, mobile-less, dandruff-on-the-collar chap whom the New BBC early-retired years ago.
If the BBC can't lampoon itself with any accuracy, can we expect it to do much better further from home?
The trouble with satire is that false notes and wrong details can undermine it completely, and mere topicality is never enough.
Tavener has an aide reminding the PM of his poll popularity even as the real polls were revealing Blair to be just 10 points ahead of the Tories.
On the other hand he has a smooth cabinet adviser called Marcia reinstated after resigning because of a £350,000 loan from the paymaster-general, and presumably we're meant to titter at the Mandelson reference.
- A review of the programme by Anne Karpf, in The Guardian, November 20, 1999