Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Fearless in Washington (no, not Blair)

EVER SINCE Alastair Campbell described him as "that ridiculous man who does politics on the BBC" in an interview with Channel 4 News (Ali was on day release at the time), it has been harder to dislike Nick Robinson - and never more than since his sterling performance in Washington on Thursday.

Those of you not watching the live feed of the press conference in which Messrs Blair and Bush reassured us that it's just a little local difficulty in Baghdad, and let's worry our pretty heads about it another moment, missed quite a treat when the President pointed at Nick for a question. His look, after Nick mildly suggested that he might be in denial over Iraq, was a lingering, attemptedly piercing glance of confused rage possibly modelled on a freeze frame of Joe Pesci during the "You think I'm a clown?" scene in Goodfellas. Who the hell is this weird Sergeant Bilko lookalike from London, England, he appeared to be thinking, and how dare he be so importunate?

Whether in private Mr Bush would have gone as far as King Lear and threatened Nick with "I know not what... but they shall be the terrrhhs of the earth" we cannot say, but we can say what a joy it was to behold the successor to that endlessly emollient politician's chum Andrew Marr doing what journalists are supposed to do in such circs, and speak quizzical insolence to power. Having said that, the limits of his fearlessness remain in doubt. The next time a British PM visits the Kremlin, let's see if Nick has a crack at Mr Putin.

* I HADN'T HEARD The Moral Maze for years until last week (can't cope with the ostentatiously caring quality to Michael Buerk's voice), so it came as a shock to be assailed by the throaty tones - and what a deep, sensual voice the old girl has; she's quite the Fenella Fielding of controversialist ranting - of Melanie Phillips. Mad Mel was very cross about something (psychiatric patients killing people, possibly, or the cricket, or the weather; it's impossible to keep up). But you couldn't help thinking how nice it is of the BBC to indulge her like this. Positive discrimination must be one of her own myriad bugbears, but in this context I honestly can't see the harm.

* MEANWHILE, HER Daily Mail colleague and fellow climatological expert Tom Utley (you will recall how he assuaged concerns about rising water levels by pointing out that when the ice in his G&T melts, the liquid doesn't spill over the top of the glass) is in confessional mode. "This may be too much information for breakfast time," wrote Tom in a piece about the NHS computer system, "but the last time I went into hospital, I was suffering from an acutely embarrassing condition" (one he neglected through shame until it could be ignored no longer). But what can it have been? Impacted haemorrhoids? An undescended testicle? Elephantiasis? None of these, in fact. Tom, it was an ingrowing toenail that took you to casualty, not the vacuum-cleaner extension trapped up your bum. For heaven's sake, love, toughen up.

* TODAY'S EXTRACT from the richly recommended stocking-filler Hold the Back Page! by Honest Harry Harris of the Dailies Express and Star concerns Michael Parkinson. The blurb on the back of Harry's book promises "a collection of often hilarious memoirs", and why they qualified it with that "often" is beyond me. Anyway, here's Harry on Parky (cut slightly for space): "Michael is a first rate sports writer in his own right... I have also appeared on his radio shows for Five Live. In fact Michael was kind enough to give me a lift home after his show. That's a measure of the guy; despite his high profile he is completely unpretentious. And I do see quite a lot of him away from work as he is also a member of Wentworth Tennis and Health Club." That's enough hilarity for one week. Next time, Alastair Campbell.

* ALSO FEATURED in Harry's opus is Jeff Randall, who as sports editor of The Sunday Times apparently came close once to hiring him (and what an anecdote that is). These days, we know Jeff better for his work as a financial writer, and best of all for the warmth of his relations with the Murdoch family. Following a recent love-in with Rupert on his Five Live show (no word on whether Jeff drove him home afterwards), last Sunday he interviewed Sky boss James in as friendly a manner as you could imagine without coitus taking place.

God knows what the famously competent Telegraph management make of their editor-at-large's closeness to the owners of their main commercial rival, but in an industry hardly typified by amity I find it most heart-warming. Next Sunday evening on Five Live, hear Jeff and Lachlan go camping in the Lake District.

* RETURNING TO James Murdoch, finally, people have long said he's the sweetheart of the clan, and so it seems. I gather he took a very personal role in arranging a generous Sky sponsorship deal with Chicken Shed, the north London drama company best known for integrating able-bodied and disabled young actors (as a patron, to borrow yet again from my colleague Stephen Glover, I should declare an interest), so the warmest of hats-offs to him for that. As a mark of respect, we will not dwell on the quality of Sky's Ashes coverage for at least the next seven days.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Junior / Graduate Application Support Engineer

£26000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful international media organ...

ERP Business/ Implementation Analyst

£40000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: This is an e...

Software Developer / Software Engineer

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Combining a passion for Softwa...

Lead Software Developer / Senior Software Developer / Technical Architect

£Neg. (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: Lead Software Developer / Seni...

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on