Monday, 14 September 2009

Annie, get your coat!

Every so often a news report creeps through on the BBC about how the IRA (and various rebel offshoots thereof) has put its guns “beyond use”. They're still there – nobody has melted them down for scrap or anything. It's just that they are no longer capable of hurting anybody.

Wouldn't it be great if we could do the same thing to Anne Robinson? Knowing that she has various family members who presumably feel some affection for the old bat, I have no desire to deprive them, but it would be so comforting to think that she would no longer darken our TV screens with her alarming botoxed boat-race.

The immobile face is bad enough, but the mouth is truly a thing of horror. Dear old Annie has fallen into the same trap as many women of a certain age (and often much, much younger) by injecting so much collagen into her gob and its environs that her lips stick out horizontally, lending her an unfortunate resemblance to Scrooge McDuck.

It's not her attitude towards the Welsh that bothers me either (“The Welsh – what are they for?” she once famously asked) because it seems clear to me that the young Annie, as a schoolgirl in her native Liverpool, was probably trounced in every exam by some transplanted North Walian (or Gog, as we prefer to call them) and has since bitterly resented the Welsh. Don't worry, love – your seal of disapproval merely spurs us on to even greater heights.

I also couldn't give a fig about her bossy schoolmarm routine on The Weakest Link; as La Robinson has frequently alleged, contestants would be disappointed if she wasn't rude to them and I completely believe her. I just reserve the right to watch it as infrequently as possible. I have to admit, though, that when a member of my family was a contestant on a celebrity edition of the show, I cheered out loud when he was as rude and patronising to her as she was to the other contestants.

In the days when I used to watch The Weakest Link I couldn't help noting the rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights look that possessed wee Annie when expected to read out perfectly standard English words; I couldn't recreate, even if serious money depended it, what a complete mess she made of 'spherical', for instance. Yet, she's supposed to be a trained journalist. A journalist who doesn't do big words, presumably.

No, my complaint about the Ginger Witch, as she is not so affectionately known by the tabloid press, is that she is a poorly educated quarter-wit who is an excellent example of the contemporary disease that infects the talentless, gittish and crass, leading them to imagine that not only are they mentally adequate, but possess the rapier wit of Oscar Wilde, the intellectual heft of Jacques Derrida and the looks of Brigitte Bardot (before she started to look like a leather handbag).

Much fuss has been caused over the past couple of years about the vast sums of BBC money raked in by Jonathan Ross, yet I would much prefer it if both Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand phoned my mother daily and sexually harassed her, than Anne Robinson be given one solitary quid of anyone's licence fee. And – guess what? - so would she, being even less fond of the Great Taffy Hater than me. By comparison, I don't begrudge Wossy one crude, crapulous on-screen moment. He might have the public persona of a sex-obsessed adolescent, but behind that facade he's had an education. Unlike Robinson, his gurning ignorance is merely an act, while Annie's frequently cretinous proclamations are entirely genuine.

Have you ever seen the Ginger Bitch on a chatshow? She behaves like a foxy version (in her demented dreams!) of Lady Bracknell, taking over the broadcast and putting the host in his place. Just imagine inviting your bossy history teacher from high school to visit your home? Now multiply this by fifty and you're just beginning to evoke the full horror.

If the show is hers it's even worse. When she presented Watchdog in the 1990s I clearly recall her criticising one of her female assistant's hairstyle on air, although there were many other examples of her super-confident attitude. Her daughter, Emma, admits that when she travels with La Robinson one of her jobs is to protect her from involuntary contact with fat people, another of her pet hates.

As if this wasn't bad enough she has an unsavoury habit of becoming nauseatingly flirtatious when presented with hunky young men. How would you feel if you brought a bloke home and your granny started to flutter her eyelashes at him? If Terry Wogan tried this he'd be suspended straight away and sent on some kind of sexual behaviour reconditioning course.

Why is it that, from a distance anyway, the British media seems full of people imbued with a confidence way beyond their ability?

Sky News's Kay Burley is another example of an inadequate presenter with a seemingly boundless belief in her very limited worth.

Inexplicably given her own show (presumably length of tenure means more to the Dirty Digger than actual talent), La Burley just can't keep it buttoned, either. She knows slightly less about sport than my tabby cat, yet the footie news always becomes a dialogue between the poor beleagured sports reporter and our Kay, with the latter constantly revealing how little she knows about anything.

However, she's equally out of her depth with hard news. Recently conducting an interview with a Middle East correspondent about the release of a Western journalist in Afghanistan, he offered some detail about the dramatic rescue and La Burley said, “Wow!” as if she were a 12 year-old being told that her mate from school had snogged one of the Jonas Brothers.

It's all very frustrating; so many intelligent, talented, able women in the world, yet so few on our screens.

I'm trying to work out whether it's all part of some cunning plan on the part of male broadcasting chiefs to make us look like dimwits, or merely a coincidence that so many female presenters aren't up to the job.

Whatever the truth is, I can't help feeling that decommissioning Anne Robinson would be a good place to start.


  1. The Times TV correspondent once described Simon Dee as an inspiration to the parents of talentless children.
    Ross has no talent to my mind either.
    Robinson is dreadful.
    Parky was generally good
    Russell Harty now seems a media genius compared to the current no-hopers.
    My MITV programmmes were better than most and they were dreadful - apart from me.

  2. Of course, apart from you!!! :o)

    Peversely, I loved Simon Dee! He was a real treasure and a complete loose cannon, although blissfully unvisited by any vestige of talent, of course! I also love the fact that his real name was Cyril Henty-Dodd, yet he still managed to become famous.

    Wossy is an ego-filled pain in the arse, but is a genuinely intelligent and educated man who has found it useful to adopt a cheeky Cockney chappie persona to find work on the Beeb.

    I stand by what I said about my mama preferring both Wossy and Brand to La Robbo, though. When she reads the questions on The Weakest Link she frequently appears to be genuinely baffled by perfectly commomplace words and place names!