The Nodding Yentob is not a TV crisis - but it still hurts the BBC's reputation, thinks Emily Bell

Is it wrong, distasteful and unfair to dwell on Alan Yentob's non appearance at his own interviews? I'm still not convinced that this is the worst thing ever to happen to TV - though it does appear to contradict parts of the Producer Guidelines (and after all they are guidelines, it's not as if they're laws). Still, it has given rise to a certain amount of amusement in the past week - a prize for the first person to produce the Nodding Yentob for the back of the executive BBC Passat.

But the revelation that the BBC's creative director was using a certain amount of artistic licence in the sequencing of interviews has exposed the plumbing on this most fraught and overheated of debates. Yentob's transgression is a blurring of the line between slightly misleading a largely indifferent audience and actually defrauding the most vulnerable members of society.

Although it has been hard to find anyone else who has absented themselves from interviews they purportedly conducted, one has to conclude that as creative director of the BBC, Yentob is a bit busy to sit around all day nodding intently at artists.

What nobody in the BBC press office was allowed to articulate is that nobody actually really cares whether Yentob turns up for an interview or not. In fact the majority of the audience, if asked after an episode of Imagine, 'do you think Alan Yentob was actually there at all?' might be vague as to the reply. The problem for the BBC is that this is a Deayton situation without the coke or hookers - it's not so much the offence, it is the potential it has to undermine the credibility of the organisation.

If Yentob's lead sets off a veritable trail of high-brow artifice - Simon Schama walking round Kew Gardens but pretending to be in Botswana, Mark Urban standing in front of the dunes at Camber Sands instead of Helmand Province - then it truly would be a dark moment in BBC history. This seems unlikely given the ensuing public embarrassment.

Now that the papers and 24-hour news stations are full of other stories, it might feel as though the heat is temporarily off television - but not a bit of it. With the Deloitte report coming down the line for ITV, and the Trust all over the BBC's case like a rash, the management of our leading broadcasters will be having a grim autumn. So far only Channel 4 has made public progress in terms of explaining how things might be different in the future.

Oh, and then there is David Kermode at Five News who banned the noddy in a bold attempt to reinvigorate TV news standards - and, er, grab headlines. Imagine that.

Emily Bell is director of digital content, Guardian News and Media