I hate to be a stirrer, but I have a feeling heads could roll over this one. An unbelievable lack of communication between the producers of Granada's dating game show God's Gift and the ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi has had most unfortunate repercussions both for the Army and for the gay community, and most of all for the Government, which reiterated so succinctly and controversially this week that gays may not, in any circumstances, join the armed forces.
It seems the MoD reckoned without the unexpected negative PR effect stemming from this week's episode of God's Gift. On Wednesday evening, the programme went out as usual - the show's distinctly naff format consists of five young men who compete both athletically and intellectually in front of a studio audience of women, who vote for one of them to become "God's Gift" - but this time there was one difference: the audience was all men.
No problem with that - the show's producers were merely experimenting with a one-off gay episode. But nobody had thought to tell Saatchi & Saatchi, which schedules its adverts for Army recruitment during the programme.
Understandably, members of the gay community who chanced to be watching choked over their beer at such blatant insensitivity. A spokesperson for the gay lobbyists Stonewall commented: "It was mighty odd in the week that the Government has said we can't have gays in the armed forces because they can't guarantee their safety."
But when I rang Saatchi & Saatchi's, however, to inform them of their bad timing, staff had no idea that there had been a "gay special". "I think," came eventually from a spokesman, "that I'd better not comment."
Salad days at L!ve TV
Now I know why the, er, expansive triumvirate at the head of L!ve TV, dubbed by their employees Kelvin "Cuddly" MacKenzie, Nick "Fit" Ferrari and "Big" Bill Ridley, recently introduced a slimming show, Weigh to Go. Yesterday I spotted Messrs Ferrari and Ridley absorbed in concentration at the low-calorie food section in Canary Wharf's Boots. After much consultation - it was clearly a new experience for them - they bought diet pop, lo- calorie yoghurt and shapers sandwiches before heading back rather glumly to their offices. Of Mr MacKenzie there was no sign - but my spies assure me that power lunch or no, he was fed a plate of lettuce leaves.
In my bedside reading, I have stumbled across something extraordinary. Westminster's creche lobby, which believes that its fruitless campaign for a baby room is 25 years old, is misinformed. As far back as 1949 there was a request for a creche in Westminster's eight acres of space and it came from none other than the late Labour MP Tom Driberg (below right).
In a 1949 edition of the now-defunct lifestyle magazine John Bull, Driberg wrote: "There is no reason why special accommodation should not be found, in the vast Palace of Westminster, not only for women MPs but for their infant offspring. There is plenty of room for a creche, or a nursery - later on, perhaps, even for a kindergarten which might teach the ABC of politics."
Given Driberg's unorthodox character - he was a promiscuous homosexual and Soviet spy - this is perhaps not the kind of endorsement that Commons creche campaigners are actively seeking. But when I called Gary Kent, a researcher who is one of its most stalwart defenders, he was delighted.
"We welcome support from any quarter," he said. "You don't have to be a parent to appreciate the civilising influence of children."
How pleasant to find that the Internet is following the traditions of real mail. A colleague received an e-mail yesterday which began solemnly: "This message has been sent to you for good luck ..." Yes, God help us, chain mail has hit the Net. My advice to all other "surfers", if we are to purge the system of such intrusion, is to obey only one of the instructions in this banal missive: "This message must leave your hands in 96 hours." It took me much less time than that to press "Delete".
Tyson's verdict on Nietzsche: `pretty cool'
As next week's big fight between Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson draws closer, I am delighted to discover that Tyson's thoughts have been turning to the German philosopher Nietzsche. In an interview in Total Sport magazine, Tyson interrupts his patronising interviewer, Steve Farhood, who says, "There was a German philosopher Nietzsche, [can't you hear the condescension?] who said that anything that doesn't destroy us makes us stronger. If that's the case you must feel very strong."
Without a flicker Tyson responds: "Nietzsche also said that when we're in pursuit of fighting monsters, during that fight we must make sure we don't become monsters. And I thought that was pretty cool."
All those ready to puke into the nearest bins should be advised that worse is to come. Continuing his unofficial bid for intellectual heavyweight of the world, Tyson expands further: "When we're in struggle in business or against our competitors, we're fighting an enemy that has no scruples or rules. And during that ordeal ... we've become monsters. In all actuality we have not won. We have destroyed ourselves in gaining some crap, some momentary goal or something."
Next question?Reuse content