The biggest financial crisis since 1929, a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the beginning of a transition period that will culminate in the USA’s first African-American president. All these things might seem important at first glance but it appears that our guardians-of-moral-virtue, the media, have other ideas. On the 19th November, a BBC journalist felt forced to hold a press conference. In most cases this would mean that a weapons inspector had committed suicide or a camera man had been shot dead in Helmand Province, but not this time.
This time it was John Sergeant and he had, well, become too popular for a man who can’t dance to continue on a dance programme. Paxman attended, BBC News 24 put the little red sash down the bottom of the screen and the broad-sheets discussed if this was an ethical question, brought on by a corporation who have been accused of agism in the recent past.
The beginning of this piece might give you a clue that, to me, the fact that this is news worthy is sickening, offensive and an indictment of our society. Yet, there is a small snippet of joy to be gathered from following this story.
Whenever reality TV takes over news it is always met by much irritation, as we have to learn the names, yet again, of another footballer’s girlfriend and the TV mechanic who flirts with her. Yawn. However this time, at the centre of the storm, stands John Sergeant. A veteran of Have I Got News For You and just about every other televised-satirical-parlour-game, I’ve seen him go into this strange world like an ambassador for the intelligent, to the extent that when Jeremy Paxman began to heckle the press conference it felt a cultural coup-d’etat. The all-round ‘get him back on response’ might cement this feeling if, on Saturday, John Sergeant announces not only that he is returning, but that he has imposed martial law on Strictly Come Dancing and it will now be forced to splice in PMQs between routines.
Its unlikely I suppose but it does inspire me to think about other possible areas for this coup to take over. The horrible yoof smugness of T4 could be tempered if every programme had to replace its ‘electronica’ theme-tune with the one from Antiques Roadshow; John Humphreys could begin presenting Blue Peter (interrogating all the so-called ‘heroic’ children); and, finally, just to add comic value to everything, lets put Tim Westwood and Jo Whiley in charge of Spring Watch. That’s a good idea actually: her husky voice luring in nature until Westwood declares that ‘squirrels are wack’ just a little too loudly.