Saturday 25 July 2020

Out with the old?

After 33 years, Dame Jenni Murray is now peering over her permanently-lowered glasses towards the exit door of the Woman's Hour studio. Her final programme will on October 1. 

Apparently it's her own choice, though, as an admiring Amanda Platell speculates in today's Daily Mail, maybe the whole trans controversy found herself embroiled in back in 2017 made her feel less at home at an increasingly 'woke' BBC. 

Her former Radio 4 colleague Libby Purves, writing in the Daily Telegraph, pays her handsome tribute, describing her as "a feminist, campaigner, humanist, confessionalist and sometimes a bit of a controversialist, but always above all a forensic, listening journalist: curious and self-possessed". 

The 'feminist campaigner' bit is the one that's always troubled me about her, and Woman's Hour more generally. I'm not sure that a campaigning feminist programme sits entirely comfortably within the BBC's concept of impartiality, but then I suppose it must do or it wouldn't have lasted so long. 

Incidentally, reading both pieces, it appears that neither Amanda nor Libby feel overly sisterly towards Dame Jenni's co-presenter Jane Garvey. Amanda says that Jane has "perfected the grating tone of the dentist’s drill", while Libby describes her as "excitably gabbling" and says she "seems to tell every interviewee that she is thrilled to meet them". Ouch!

Anyhow, so who will be the BBC's choice to replace Dame Jenni Murray? 

Are they rumours, or more than rumours, that the programme is heading inevitably for a 'diverse' choice? 

I'm presuming probably not a man - something that would be a hugely 'diverse' choice in terms of WH surely? - and I'm also guessing that Laura Perrins or Kathy Gyngell at The Conservative Woman aren't exactly what the BBC will be looking for. 

I assume it will be someone much younger than Dame Jenni, possibly BAME. 

Given the trouble the Dame found herself when she made old-fashioned feminist statements on transgender matters, would they go so far as to deliberately select a trans woman, or even a trans man? Who would entirely bet against it? 

On these kinds of occasions I usually trot out the name 'Samira Ahmed', so I'd better do so again. One day I might even be right.

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