What a difference a new editor can make to a radio programme.
Under the guest editorship of singer-songwriter PJ Harvey the BBC’s Today programme finally became what the Tory press has always accused it of being – a hot-bed of lefties.
She packed the show with the kind of people they love to hate – radical journalist John Pilger, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a Briton who had been a prisoner in Guantánamo Bay, a Cypriot who said he had been tortured by the British and – shock horror – the former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams.
All this was lambasted as “incomprehensible liberal drivel”, “left wing tosh” and a “train wreck of a programme”. The Daily Mail’s columnist Stephen Glover denounced the show as “silly, frivolous and unpatriotic”.
I thought it made a fabulous change from Today’s usual earnest, meticulously balanced Westminster-centric discussions. I wouldn’t want to listen to these people every day, but PJ Harvey’s programme was a refreshing start to the year, and such a surprise that it made me laugh out loud. She even added poetry readings and music.
Clearly the programme reflected the personality of the guest editor, and it made me wonder how closely the style of other news outlets follows the personality of their editors. So here are my guesses about what the editors of national newspapers must be like: I’ll leave you to work out which papers I’m talking about.
There’s the sad old pensioner too terrified to go out of doors for fear of being killed by fierce weather or crushed by stampeding Romanians.
And that nice, but unrealistic bloke in the pub who hasn’t got a good word to say about capitalism or the Coalition Government but can’t come up with any convincing alternatives.
There’s that elegant, kind and terribly well educated chap. Sometimes I wonder what on earth he is going on about. You know who I mean.
As an old geezer I clearly live on a different planet from at least two of the editors, who seem to be obsessed by celebs I have never heard of.
I try to avoid the curmudgeonly old so-and-so who is depressingly convinced that England has gone to the dogs. He keeps running scary health stories and tales of miracle cures.
There’s also a delightful old gentleman who is rather deaf and out of touch, and although very well informed seems to be under the impression it’s still the 1950s.
This is a matter of personal taste of course, but after reading through all the national papers I can imagine only one editor who is not going to browbeat me.
And not even he sounds as much fun as PJ Harvey.
– GARETH WEEKES, Deep South Media.