Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Cursed three times by the open mic

What a vexing week for three of our First Ladies of Broadcasting, as each fell victim to the unforeseeable fact that their microphones were switched on during a live transmission. We'll deal with the two well-publicised accidents before coming to the one that slipped by unnoticed.

First, Sky newsreader Julie Etchingham, soon to join Trevor McDonald on ITV's reborn News at Ten, is hereby exonerated for ad-libbing that David Cameron's immigrant policy is "extermination". This is partly because it was an innocent slip, but mostly because she was once our tenant in the heart of London's media-laden Hammersmith. Never once were Julie and her husband Nick late with the rent, and they left the place so pristine that there was no pretext for retaining the deposit. Anyone who henceforth criticises Julie for this faux pas will be persecuted on this page without mercy or pause.

As for Sarah Kennedy reprising an old northern club comic's gag about a black person being visible only through whiteness of teeth... sometimes you just have to accept that a person is neither malevolent nor racist, but simply doolally (as the controller of Radio 2 appears wisely to have done in this case).

And so to the one that almost got away. Seldom do I turn from the Today programme to Radio Five Live's breakfast show, but when I do (and thanks to Jim Naughtie, by the way, for returning from his lengthy exile in China) it never disappoints. Last Tuesday, there was Shelagh Fogarty, the geisha girl to Nicky Campbell's mighty shogun, reading a text message about "the English, Welsh, Irish and Scottish languages" in a state of bemusement. "I'm stunned..." she said. "Well ... I suppose English is a language." I suppose it is, unlike Gaelic, Erse and Welsh. During the last BBC strike, Shelagh joined Terry Wogan in crossing the picket lines. If and when the next one is called, and should Shelagh this time support her colleagues by staying at home, a few hours spent studying the tongues of Britain – it's not easy, I know; it's a right Tower of Babel out there – might come in handy. Ignorance on this scale must remain the preserve of phone-in callers to Radio Five, not its presenters.

* DEPRESSING NEWS for fellow fans of Jon Gaunt, whose moving memoir Undaunted (Britain's Full Thank You So Sod Off Home You Migrant Scum Press, £0.99) mystifyingly fails to break into Amazon's top 100 bestsellers. In his latest Sun column, meanwhile, Gaunty attacks Chris Moyles (at No 34 on Amazon himself, at the time of writing, with Difficult Second Book) for being fat. "Look," begins Gaunty's snippet directly below the one about Moyles, "I know I've eaten all the pies." Three inches apart, these references were (or 5.3 per cent of the author's waistline). Dear old Gaunty.

* ALSO SUFFERING from memory lapses is Gaunty's Sun colleague Kelvin MacKenzie. Not long ago, Kelvin was incandescent with outrage at bad language on Jonathan Ross's show. Now he takes space in that family newspaper to tell Gordon Brown to "fuck off" (or "**** off", to quote verbatim). You will recall my concern when a medical trial posited a link between heavy snoring, to which Kelvin has been a martyr, and Alzheimer's. Then again, considering the standard first question put to suspected dementia victims by psychiatrists, we must be relieved that he knows the Prime Minister's name.

* SPEAKING OF Gordon, how droll it was to learn that GMTV moved forward its interview with him about education policy last week, to a much less prestigious time slot, in order to make way for Lady Mills McCartney's keynote address. In effect, the PM was bumped, just like a minor comic on The Larry Sanders Show. It isn't always easy to praise GMTV, but this expression of its priorities warms the heart. Who now dares accuse New Labour's favourite conduit to the nation of banal news judgement?

* THE NATURAL-BORN scientists of Fleet Street – the ones who are able to come to a perfect understanding of incredibly complex matters through osmosis rather than through decades of tireless study – turn from global warming to consider new evidence about the carcinogenic properties of alcohol and processed meats. And oddly enough, they are not persuaded. Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail tartly concludes that "it's all nonsense", and the Telegraph's resident snug bar bore Jeff Randall concurs. Churchill drank like a fish, he observes, and lived to a great age.

Apart from breaking entirely new ground by citing an aunt who smoked 80 Woodbines a day until they buried her at 103 to demolish the scaremongering about a link between tobacco and lung tumours, it's hard to see how Jeff could make a more piercingly intelligent contribution to the debate. But I'm sure he'll find a way.

* FINALLY, in the light of the revelation that an "expert" on Channel 4's Bringing Up Baby (Cruella de Vil figure Clare Verity) invented not only qualifications but previous nannying jobs, executive producer Daisy Goodwin – and it's not her ultimate responsibility to check such things – is duly installed as 100-30 favourite to succeed Peter Fincham as controller of BBC1. The late Arthur Askey, although busy as a bee, is next best at 9-2, with surprise market-mover Huw Edwards backed sharply in to 6-1 after heavy support from syndicates operating out of Methodist chapels in South Wales. It's 8-1 bar the trio, with a full show of betting next week.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive - Graduate / Entry Level

£22000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital advertising infras...

Guru Careers: PR Account Director / SAM

£50 - 60k (DOE) + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: A PR Account Director / SAM ...

Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Insight Analyst

£32 - £37K + extensive benefits: Guru Careers: Research Analyst / Business Ins...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific