Matthew Norman's Media Diary: Deference is not the sharpest tool

ANYONE WHO shares with the Daily Mail and myself a special nostalgic bond to the age of deference (1952-1964 according to social historians) will have relished last week. First, a word of praise for The Times's David Aaronovitch for the first episode of BBC1's The Blair Years, in which he interviewed Mr Tony B with all the controlled but discernible rigour of Michael Parkinson (see below) invited by a topless Sophia Loren into her on-set trailer. Rousing as this verbal sparring was, the disappointment is that in all the excitement David forgot to ask the former PM if he had anything further to impart to a grateful nation, although he may well have come to this in last night's second episode when the chat moved on to Iran. And yet, remarkably, enough, the Most Ameliorative über-Blairite of the Week award went elsewhere, to Martin Kettle of The Guardian ...and he wasn't even talking about Mr Blair.

In an impressive display of even-handedness, it was around the trembling shoulders of the current regime and its leaders that the avuncular Martin sought to throw a protective arm. "There can hardly be a person alive who hasn't lost something important – keys, wallet, passport, watch, car, even children – at some time or another through their own inadvertence or stupidity," Martin confided to The Guardian's web site. "We've all done it ... So, in that sense, today's announcement that the Revenue and Customs have lost some CDs full of data is actually a very human story. We've all been there. It's incredibly annoying, but it's life. We ought to feel sympathetic." We ought to, Martin, of course we should. Yet in this age of cynics and sneerers, so few of us have the simple humanity. All we can really do is fantasise about nicking the Tardis, stopping off at Wapping to collect David on the way, and slipping through space-time back to 1956.

WITH DEFERENCE still in mind, to Michael Parkinson (Good Old Parky!), the Dame Nellie Melba of chat whose latest final show goes out on ITV1; and whose next comeback is scheduled for the spring of 2009. But that's always been the way with a career which, for all its rich promise, has tended towards the stop-start. It may seem as if Parky's been giggling like the victim of an explosion in a nitrous oxide factory at witless anecdotes for an unbroken 72 years. But when it comes to continuous service, he is quite the arriviste. He did 11 years from 1971-82 on the BBC, not returning until 1998. Then he quickly flounced out in a huff over scheduling times, turning up at ITV four years ago. If you add up his years he's probably done less time than Jonathan Ross, the granddaddy of chat to Parky's cocky young kid on the block. He'll be back, though, once he's learnt his trade.

A TRULY shocking week for BBC2's Eggheads. The quintet of smart arses of varying degrees of psychosis-inducing smugness (that Daphne ... I'm sorry, I can't discuss it; I'd only end up in court) lost twice running to members of the public. Further evidence that the bleating about dumbing down is false as well as tired came on the show that precedes it. On Wednesday's Weakest Link, one contestant, asked by our most adored Annie Robinson, which ex-Labour leader became an EU Commissioner, replied "Margaret Thatcher". Meanwhile, the next question (and these were the two who reached the final) requested the name of Noah's grandfather who died at 967. "God," he said. Dumbing down? With arch Nietzchean references like that one on teatime telly? Cobblers.

CONGRATULATIONS TO Evan Davis, the genital jewellery-clad outgoing BBC economics editor, on his forthcoming berth as a presenter of Radio 4's Today Programme. He's a real talent and will no doubt be excellent at the job. No doubt his new colleagues will welcome him with the usual generosity of spirit with which BBC staff are known. In fact, we gather that Jim Naughtie plans to go that extra mile to make Evan feel part of the gang. According to friends, Jim has made an appointment to be pierced, and plans to wear a gold ring on the first morning they co-present just in case they find themselves standing alongside each other in the urinals during Thought For The Day.

APOLOGIES FOR last week's incomplete reference to GMTV's Fiona Phillips, who in the Daily Mirror identified the genesis for Frank Lampard's Toryism as brain damage, caused by heading footballs. Our item, which mused on the convention that political interviewers such as Fiona keep their political allegiances private, was written before Sunday's revelation that Gordon Brown wanted to ennoble her and appoint her a junior health minister. Sometimes there are no words. This is such a time.

EXCITING NEWS for Jon Gaunt fans. Gaunty's Sun column has been moved from Wednesday to the prestigious Friday slot. So far Gaunty seems oddly fatigued by the transfer – he couldn't be bothered, he reported three days ago, to write of England's defeat to Croatia – but it's very early days and I'm sure he'll bed in soon.

SPEAKING OF that memorable match, lastly, hats off to Kent News for covering ensuing developments with none of the parochialism that can afflict the local press. Kent FA Member Helped Sack Steve McClaren ran the main headline on its web site on Thursday. Indeed, but for Barry Bright, Mr McClaren would still be in his job today.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

Trend Writer / Copywriter

£25 - 30k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Trend Writer / Copywriter: Retail, Design and...

Business Development Manager / Media Sales Exec

£28 - 32k + Uncapped Commission: Guru Careers: A Business Development Manager ...

Digital Marketing Assistant

£17 - 27k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Digital Marketing Assistant to join ...

Day In a Page

Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

Europe's biggest steampunk convention

Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor