Sunday 11 February 2018

Newsnight, Hair, a giant baby and a bit more

This is a series of observations I would have posted earlier if I’d had time. Some of it might be past its use-by date, but what the hell.


What a dilemma, whether to watch Newsnight with Kirsty Wark (afraid of missing something after last week’s spat with Tommy Robinson) or succumb to a nagging desire to watch Question Time. (afraid of missing something) You have to keep an eye on these things.

Switching back and forth between them, I stumbled upon a bizarre exchange between Ann Coulter and Laurie Penny,  in some ways chalk and cheese, and in other ways cheese and cheese.
A surprise location switch found Ms. Coulter in the studio with Kirsty and Laurie Penny in the US against a backdrop of the Hollywood sign, culturally appropriating LA speech patterns and saying “right now” instead of “at the moment". The interview concerned Fake News, a subject close to the hearts of these interviewees with their diametrically opposed interpretations of what is ‘news’ and what is fake.

Ms. Penny was convinced that journalists (like her) were the sole purveyors of truth, while Ms. Coulter said decisively 
 “The internet is the only place you can get the truth.” 
The discourse  became increasingly ludicrous, but Kirsty eclipsed both guests by calling people who doubted the absolute integrity and honesty of the BBC “despots” 
“Aren’t you aiding the despots who say “it’s all about fake news from CNN even the BBC, so we won’t believe it?” You are aiding people by undermining the probity of the mainstream media?” 
Ms. Coulter, never known to be lost for words, was in full flow, when Kirsty turned to Ms. Penny.
“Are you finished!” said Laurie Penny. “May I speak now? Are you finished?” 
she said menacingly in her tiny penetrating voice. 
“Now Miss Coulter is a troll, with no credibility, and so is her president” 
said she, looking suspiciously troll-like herself.

This must have been desperate attempt to boost the ratings, as Newsnight must have known there was no conceivable prospect of meaningful dialogue between these particularly outspoken, ideologically opposed polemicists, specially when there was no time to progress beyond a slanging match and with a host whose speech is so slurred and nasal you have to wonder why she is a host.  


Continuing ITBB’s popular series of posts dedicated to hair. (Episode 3) 
I spotted “Next: hair.” at the top of the screen as I watched The Daily Politics this afternoon.  (The other day, now) Naturally I was excited and I knew immediately where they got the idea. (here!)

The discussion was strictly confined to politicians’ hair, but I suspect Jo Coburn surreptitiously plumped up hers, which had been looking rather flat, while the cameras were focussing on celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke as he slid into the studio to explain Donald Trump, which he was unable to do. 
Even the comedians on programmes like Mock the Weak Week sound bored with Trump while wearily churning out their tedious Trumpisms.

extreme short back and sides

Images of obvious hair-centric politicians, Boris and both Michaels Heseltine and Fabricant were shown, as well as (for some reason) Tony Blair and Gordon Brown while real man of the moment, hair-wise, Kim Jong Un, was conspicuously absent. After all, his extreme haircut has conquered the world with the trend for short back and sides. Celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke, modelling a fetching Lauren Bacall style, is about the only man-about-town with whom this fashion hasn’t caught on. Luckily for Andrew Neil, he wasn’t present, or there may have been some sniggering in the background. He seemed to be sporting a new toupee when I last saw him discussing PMQs with Laura Kuenssberg.

Lauren Bacall

Oh dear what shall I do with my Saturday evenings now that Spiral has finished? The series ended on an enigmatic note, and will be returning when we’ve all forgotten how we left it.
One thing I do know; if that baby continues to grow at the rate she’s ballooned since birth, she’s gonna be massive by then.


Has anyone else noticed the way the BBC’s man in Jerusalem, Tom Bateman, has been prefacing or appending information that comes from Israeli sources with “Israel says” even when reporting something it seems Israel didn’t exactly say. Oh yes, BBC Watch has noticed, and more besides.

This sounds almost as if Bateman is terrified - either for himself,  for the BBC in general or on behalf of the puffed-up Middle East Editor — of sounding like an “Israeli shill”, which is the boilerplate term Israel-haters are inclined to throw at the BBC to intimidate them, and and make them stop sounding as though they ‘believe’, or heaven forbid, approve of anything an Israeli spokesperson might utter.
I’m no particular fan of Sky, but their man on the spot doesn’t seem to need to use caution-laden qualifiers in that way.


I once knew a sexually voracious and predatory chap who worked for Oxfam. Young girls were slightly in awe of him, which made him feel important.  I believe he was ‘let go’ from his post. Huge charities nearly always turn out to be rabidly political, like War on Want and Amnesty International etc etc. and I am wary of them all. 
I have a feeling that this kind of sexually predatory behaviour has been going on in these circles for a very very long time but I don’t know how long the antisemitism has been part of the remit.


I watched the replay of this debate that took place in Westminster Hall on 7th. It was shown on the Parliament channel this morning. Children in detention. (In Israel)
All the usual anti-Israel MPs had their say, as did the small number of pro-Israel MPs, most notably Matthew Offord. 

You wouldn’t get a sense of this from Hansard, but there was some disturbing background noise, including some whoops and cheering from the public gallery. The debate was brought by Sarah Champion who was looking very pleased with herself. 

Ahed Tamimi has a strong fan base in the Labour Party, and the degree of animosity towards “Israel”  (if that’s how they want us to  see it) is based on superficial (mis)understanding of history. This is Gathering Storm territory. Goebbels would be proud.


  1. Disreputable types employed by Oxfam? How things have changed from the 1960s when Jeffrey Archer first came to public prominence collecting money for Oxfam.

  2. Did you get the feeling that they want to kill off Spiral? We started with the ghost of the first main character that they lost, now the judge is dying, his secretary written out, Tintin has given in his notice and Josephine is heading for jail. (Incidentely what are the continuity announcers on? We were told that we would see the penultimate episode the week before it was shown and finally we were assured that Josephine 'had a plan', a plan of looking like a broken woman? Still it is lots better than the dire Modus which has no characters that one can relate to, all beta females pretending to be alpha, supported by omega males who have given up on life in modern Sweden.

    1. Yes, and, Laure was seen heading out away from it all into some sort of hinterland at the end of the last episode. Have you thought, Anon, that the writing out of the main characters might be as a prerequisite to renewal of the BBC sponsorship for a new series? I hope not. The chemistry between the central characters has been superb.

      After all, the Police, the Mayor, the Lawyers and the Judiciary are all exclusively white, and the ruthless violent baddies are black. That would never do for the BBC to spoon-feed to the UK audience - if the BBC were in control of commissioning the 'balance' would need some adjustment.

    2. If, and this is just speculation, the BBC were to seek to influence production values to a French series that they were sponsoring in part, then an intriguing set of circumstances would arise.

      We know of French culture which demand conservative standards in the use of language etc. The French arts and culture Traditionalists might equate with the Leave-voting majority in the UK who wish to preserve their country's cultural identity against the threat of inclusivity and multi-cultural directives. This same group will have been looking enviously over their shoulders at the Leave vote in the UK - thinking that at last we can be free from the imposition of alien values and cultures.

      If there is any truth to the above premise, the outcome of the Brexit vote in the UK not only has failed to allow Government to reign in the excesses of multi-cultural inclusivity, but also, by using its immense wealth, the BBC are able to impose their own production values upon a French TV production.

      The outcome in this, a worst case scenario, is that a popular series will lose its appeal. Gone will be the chemistry between the main characters as they are prevented from demonstrating traditional interpersonal relationships along familiar lines, and then, everyone's a loser.

    3. By ... thinking that at last we can be free from the imposition of alien values and cultures.... I am suggesting that there is a trend for 'watering down' of traditional standards due to the need to include all cultures so that nobody feels left behind.

    4. I think it would be a bit late in the day for the BBC to impose its 'production values' as right from the start the French were clear that they wanted to portray reality, French-French cops versus 'New French' baddies. But then Doctor Who used to be an imaginative programme about an eccentric British grandad and his family, not a Marxist nudge-fest. The Scandinavians are capable of meeting the BBC's needs unaided, good women, amazing Muslims and evil white men.

  3. At first I thought it came faster than expected, but having read it no surprise to read they are trying it on big time and spamming everyone...

    "Thank you for contacting us about the 1 February episode of The Mash Report.

    To allow us to reply promptly and ensure we use our licence fee resources as efficiently as possible, we are sending this response to everyone who contacted us about this particular item. We are sorry we can’t reply individually, but we hope this will address the concerns you have raised.

    We understand that some of our audience were offended by an illustration of Donald Trump and Piers Morgan used in the programme. The BBC has a rich heritage of satire and, in this tradition, The Mash Report looks for humorous angles on stories that have been in that week’s news. It is not unusual for public figures to have their views and actions scrutinised by the programme and no-one in the public eye is exempt.

    A few days earlier Piers Morgan conducted an interview with President Trump which had provoked public comment and discussion. The cartoon alluded to the perceived use of flattery to gain favour with the President. The programme was appropriately scheduled at 10pm and we don’t believe its regular audience would have found the tone of this item unusual, or felt that the image was sexist or homophobic.

    We appreciate you took the time to raise your concerns with us, which have been made available with senior management and the programme team."

    So, they have been inundated then. And are that desperate they have come up with this as an excuse and attempt to blow everyone off.

    I don't think there is much point going back via the ever farcical BBC system to tell them what I think of their reply, so am proposing to go direct to OFCOM for my first test of the oversight via them.

    1. I wrote to the BBC last year about a Radio 4 “comedy” programme which was for all intents and purposes a party political broadcast on behalf of the Labour Party. It was the first time I have ever written a letter of complaint in my life. I received a similar reply. Very politely worded, but along with all the usual platitudes about BBC balance, they justified the programme with the same allusions to their rich heritage of satire. In other words treating my concerns with contempt.

      Strangely, there appear to certain groups that escape this rich heritage of satire. I wonder why that is?

    2. Seems the bbc is doubling down on the ‘rich heritage of satire’ thing big time..


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