TELEVISION / Bring back the little mop

FLANKED by a couple of Treasury minders, the Chancellor of the Exchequer went on Westminster Live (BBC2) and pleaded not guilty to indecently exposing his country to unemployment. Even as he spoke 30,000 miners' jobs went down the chute and the new chat show Good Morning . . . with Anne and Nick (BBC1) was cut off for not paying its phone bill.

Norman Lamont, sweating visibly, must have wished his place had been taken by that rising star of Spitting Image (ITV), the little mop which stands in for ministers too scared to face tough media interviews. Unfortunately Mop was engaged on more pressing business, watching the Cabinet try to organise a piss-up in a brewery.

Iain MacWhirter, presenter of Westminster Live, assured viewers that Lamont's grilling before the cross-party Treasury Select Committee would lay bare once and for all the Government's new economic strategy. 'Unlike MPs in the Commons they can question ministers until they get answers,' MacWhirter announced.

Any connection between the Lamont show and those gladiatorial Senate hearings that illuminate American democracy was purely coincidental. The Chancellor defended his record from a position knee-deep in a mire of gobbledegook. He kept taking us down foggy fiscal motorways called the M0, M2 and M3. He said he preferred the M0 which sounded chillingly like the road to nowhere. He talked of broad money when you have only to look at the new 10p piece to recognise that money is getting narrower. A Labour MP asked him why he had said, two years ago, that the recession was nearly over. Lamont, ploughing through the background sniggers, rebuked him for trying to get cheap laughs.

At a finance ministers' meeting in Washington recently, an American TV reporter identified Lamont to a colleague as 'the guy that looks like he comes from the Addams family'. As the Chancellor confessed, with that lubricious lisp, that he never read the Financial Times because he thought it made up fibs about him, the impression of a petulant clockwork zombie was irresistible.

Economic gloom was evident among the unwashed coffee mugs and domestic scruff littering the lethargic launch of Good Morning . . . , the BBC's bid to use Anne Diamond and Nick Owen to see off Madeley and Finnigan's This Morning show over on ITV.

While the opposition sent Una Stubbs off to Australia to flirt with muscle-heads on Bondi Beach, Diamond and Owen sat on a sofa in a tacky suburban drawing-room and pretended to be ordinary. Nick's wooden face bravely concealed the fact that he had been unemployed since being voted the sixth most boring man in Britain. Anne wore her best Oxfam jumper, flashed her ferret's grin at a visiting Avon Lady (icily played by Joan Collins) and gaily invited us to admire 'our little home'.

Good Morning . . . sees its role as 'pushing back a few frontiers . . . typically bringing in the stories that touch us'. It discharged this role last week with a recipe for citrus salad, Barbara Cartland on true love and a taste for 'human-interest' stories about sick children that would have made Esther Rantzen blush. Somewhere along the way, and perhaps slightly ahead of the bailiffs, British Telecom severed the show's phone-in line. With a touch of hysteria, Diamond announced that calls to Joan Collins were being diverted to the Midland Bank.

Keeping up appearances, or flouncing out on them if you're Jasper Conran, dominated The Clothes Show (BBC1) and its follow-up, a shameless commercial called The British Fashion Awards (BBC1). Both were introduced by Jeff Banks and his shrill sidekick Caryn Franklin. In The Clothes Show Banks rummaged among the industry's princelings of haute couture like a tabloid sports reporter, a flushed Max Miller lookalike patronising 'the British lads' one minute, fawning at their knees the next. 'Do you feel pressure on you, as a designer, to come up with these winning collections?' he asked Rifat Ozbek in an awe-stricken murmur. Ozbek, whose personal wardrobe favours a kind of Cardboard City chic, purred languidly.

The paradox of the dressmakers' world is why it survives unchallenged by feminists who denounced beauty competitions as degrading (and rightly so, he added hastily) but remain apparently indifferent to the provocative gyrations of women earning a crust on the catwalk in frocks that often seemed designed for the hooking and bondage classes.

Part of the answer, peeled away in Gina and Jeremy Newson's wonderfully ironic dissection of the fashion trade, The Look (BBC2), is that its luminaries are not actually very threatening, despite the carefully cultivated air of menace when they drift through kissing crowds like Mafia godfathers. The Newsons' proposition that clothing is really a form of tribal cosiness, a uniform whether you're in Ralph Lauren heritage wear, a bomber jacket shrieking 'Stussy' or police riot gear duffing up strikers, blew a refreshingly cool breeze through the dressmakers' suffocating hot house.

Undertakers (BBC1), Charles Stewart and Malcolm Hirst's little gem of a film for Inside Story, followed the Jeeves-like figure of Roger Gillman and his jolly employees as they buried the past, including Mr Beardwell 'who always looked smart and drank at the Castle' and a young black man, mysteriously murdered, whose family paid pounds 6,000 for his funeral. Mr Gillman, a shoulder to cry on in a sea of tears, said: 'I don't think I was clever enough at school to get a proper job.' He undersold himself.

The Kennedys (ITV), a four- part documentary by Phillip Whitehead and Roger Bolton, is unlikely to be required viewing among survivors of that flawed clan in the family compound at Hyannisport. As The Cuban Missile Crisis (BBC2) showed, John Kennedy's reputation for saving the world from both Khrushchev and his own barking-mad generals (even Kubrick's Dr Strangelove paled alongside the terrifying black comedy of the real thing) should rest secure.

The problem for posterity will be to measure this global political achievement against the evidence emerging about a dynasty fatally blemished by its founding-father, the greedy, ruthless Joe, the US ambassador to London now remembered mainly for his pro- Nazi sentiments and cowardice during the London blitz.

In its own sad way the meticulous integrity of the Bolton- Whitehead series almost certainly marks the end of another dynasty: a creative community that regarded commercial television as a platform to investigate and inform. That structure is now being destroyed by accountants and the envious window-smashers who always regarded this kind of public- service journalism as showing off. We may not see their like again.

Allison Pearson returns next week.

Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?

An enlightening finale for Don Draper

Arts and Entertainment
Serious player: Aussie Guy Sebastian rehearses for the big show in Vienna

Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
    Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

    The end of an era across the continent

    It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
    Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

    'Focus on killing American people'

    Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
    Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

    Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

    The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
    Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

    Same-sex marriage

    As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
    The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

    The Mafia is going freelance

    Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable