I came into the kitchen for an early lunch just as the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death was announced on Radio 4, breaking into the final minute of ‘You and Yours’. The continuity announcer was, unfortunately, Neil Nunes, who caught the spirit of the occasion with a cheery ‘OK – that’s an extended News at One today. So now let’s have a look at the weather.’ (The sooner someone puts this poor man out of his misery and gives him a job at the BBC where he doesn’t have to read English the better.)
The usually reliable Martha Carney was all over the place. The production team hadn’t had time to get hold of all the pre-prepared packages and she waffled inanely. We quickly swapped her for the BBC1 news. Here was the demure Sian Edwards handling everything thrown at her with assurance and coolness. Far better. The TV news at 6.00 was standard stuff – despatch someone to anywhere but the news room – so George Alagiah was presenting from Downing Street with the unflappable Nick Robinson. Look East (our local programme) had sent Stewart White to interview Lord Tebbitt at his home in Bury St Edmunds – it didn’t seem pre-packaged so presumbaly Stewart had hot-footed it from Norwich to Bury and back in the afternoon. Pretty good.
Channel 4 at 7.00 was hugely impressive, knocking spots off the Beeb’s coverage with good pro and con interviews conducted by the admirable Jon Snow. Good to see Charles Powell wipe the floor with miserable Lefty hackette Polly Toynbee and the usually ghastly Louise Mensch making mincespeak of the insufferable Marxist ‘comic’ Alexi Sayle. But by far the best tribute was Snow (again) with a terrific personal film about his time covering the Thatcher years. This had interviews with those who had worked closely with the PM (her driver, security guard, confidante and dresser) and emphasised the other side of The Iron Lady, with Snow admitting that in all his interviews with her the score was 20-nil to Thatcher.
Andrew Marr’s pre-packaged film for the BBC had all the famous footage but was stodgily voiced by Marr (his well-written script hammered out as always with no light or shade or variation of pace). Why the Beeb thinks a journalist can voice a script better than a professional narrator I have no idea. Anyway, the whole tribute was made unviewable by the unspeakably awful choice of music – Bach for the most part. Bach, yes, but why Bach played on a synthesizer by a machine? Whoever was responsibel for the soundtrack should be moved to another job – maybe the same department as Neil Nunes, one which caters specially for BBC employees who have landed in the wrong job.