Air-head ‘celebrity’


It often amazes me how often people in the media are promoted way above the level of their ability. How did they do it? one asks. The BBC are particularly adept at giving a high profile job to someone of minimal talent. One thinks of Fiona Bruce, the gabbling newsreader who seems to fancy herself no end. The Antiques Roadshow has become unwatchable with her twee presentational style aimed at an elderly aunt in a care home. Who did the Beeb choose to interview the irrascible and notoriously rude Duke of Edinburgh on the occasion of his 90th birthday? Why, Fiona Bruce, fearless inquisitor and experienced cross-examiner. Of course he ate her for breakfast – not surprising because a) Bruce didn’t know what she was doing and b) because the interview had been set up by the Duke’s friend Selina Scott who sold the idea to the Beeb in the first place. HRH was not best pleased to be landed with a bimbo he hadn’t expected to talk to, and so took it out on her – as would anyone who is innately offensive .

Who else is there in a highly-paid, high profile job on the TV whose lack of talent seems to be the only qualification needed to do the job? One thinks at once of Bruce’s fellow presenter and feminist, the air-head of breakfast television, Susannah Reid. The press have picked up on her flirtatious interview yesterday morning with some pop star half her age. It must be the first time she’s shown any interest in anything on the breakfast sofa. She just isn’t very good at it. Why? She has no vocal energy, she mumbles, her body language is always crossed legs and arms – no matter what the subject. And, fatally, her default expression is to look uneasy. Not known for her lightning repartee, let alone her sense of humour, she can kill a bit of spontaneous banter stone dead in a second. Poor Bill Turnbull  – now he really can do the job – how he must miss the sparky and wholly delightful Sian Williams who bravely turned down the prospect of the Salford sofa in favour of her family and sanity in London. Reid opted to commute at (our) huge expense a few days a week, and took Sian’s place. And now we have to endure Reid as a ‘celebrity’ on Strictly. Is there no end to her delusional sense of herself?

Elsewhere on the Salford sofa there is the incompetent Naga Munchetty (bet you didn’t catch that on air – she’s always introduced by her co-presenter as if her name was as ordinary as Jane Smith). Terrible diction. No screen charisma. Unlike the excellent Louise Minchin – she looks and sounds as though she’s fun – and Charlie Stayt, authoritative and fluent.

And that’s just a few of the bums on the breakfast slot. How can the BBC get it wrong so often? And who makes these appointments? And what sort of ‘quality check’ is there? Being a journalist does not automatically qualify you for success on the small screen. Strictly’s latest autocue reader – or should that be Reider? – to slum it on the Saturday samba slot illustrates that all too well.

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