Matthew Norman: Planet Marr's sketchy Big Bang slot
Monday 15 September 2008
If there's one thing about the British media that perplexes me above all others, it's the lack of exposure enjoyed by Andrew Marr. Doubtless this is down to his own fiercely self-effacing nature, because often it feels as if he's slapped a D-Notice on himself, but it's simply nonsense when he has so much to offer. In the last few days alone, apart from his Sunday morning show on BBC1 (David Frost with a dead cool convertible Skoda) and Start The Week, Andy went to Switzerland for the Big Bang experiment, and it is testament to the man's range and breadth of interest that even the anticipated end of the planet couldn't monopolise that powerhouse mind.
Our thanks to the Today programme website for drawing attention to the little thumbnail sketches of the scientists Andy managed to churn out. For those whose appetite for his artistic output wasn't sated by this, he also features in an exhibition entitled What Are You Like? at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, in which he has drawn a few of his favourite things to offer an insight into his soul.
Andy's work is described by one who has seen as it as "Prince Charles standard at least". God knows this country has a tiresome habit of scorning frighteningly clever people even when they fight as doughtily as Andy to avoid thrusting their cleverness down our throats. But for once can we please acknowledge the splendour of a mind that not only comprehends the fine detail of particle acceleration but can knock off elegant sketches of those accelerating the particles? We use the term "renaissance man" too glibly, but in this case it is the literal truth. A great gift for painting and an almost equal talent for science ... how can you not gaze in awe upon the work of Andrew Marr, if you can find it, and not think of that ultimate Renaissance man, Leonardo?
Barely less explosive than Andy on Today last week was Evan Davis. Everyone loves Evan for his lightness of touch and sunny nature, but there have been concerns that he's too much of a sweetie to deal with politicians at 10 past eight. No longer. His brutal crushing of Hillary Benn slayed all doubt. To be frank, I'm not sure that the Environment Secretary's attempt to read out a freephone number offering advice about heating bills wasn't a fairly harmless usage of six seconds of air time. But it's a start, and from such tiny acorns of irritation even the mightiest oaks of righteous fury grow.
I am really saddened by the death of David Chipp, long ago a boss and recently a friend, who died last week without having the courtesy to cancel lunch next week ... an odd lapse given how courteous this magnificent journalist was in life, but forgivable in the circs. In his days running the Press Association with such elegant swagger, I worked for Chipp in Fleet Street, albeit he didn't take too hands-on an approach in dealing with 19-year-old copy-runners in that quaint old age of conveyor belts. Not usually, anyway, but during a strike at PA in the midst of the Falklands War in 1982, he became a copy boy himself and thought this hilarious. Chipp was one of those precious people whom age didn't wither one iota, and seemed as curious and hungry for life at 81 as he must have been six decades earlier. He will be greatly missed by a great many people.
Now to the Daily Mirror Exclusive of the Week. I am sorely tempted to give the prize to Kaye Jackson for the stunning revelation that TV presenter Carole McGiffin has resumed coitus after a seven year hiatus. But alas for Kaye, she is narrowly beaten by Mark Jefferies for the page-3 electrifier "EastEnders Sack Baby", the soap apparently facing an unfair dismissal action from a 10-month-old boy jettisoned to avoid the taxi fares involved in transporting the infant to Elstree.
An apology, on behalf of my colleague Ian Burrell, to hard man Daily Telegraph editor Will Lewis for being described as a Tottenham fan in last week's interview. Will, as his office pointed out, is a West Ham fan. The mistake arose because I used to see Will now and then at Spurs games, and drew the obvious conclusion on this page a while ago. Whether it is more alarming that a non-Spurs fan would choose to watch them, or for a journalist to take on trust anything that appears in this column, I cannot decide.
Fantastic, finally, to find Jon Gaunt praising Jaguar cars fulsomely in The Sun. The Jag is one of those things, says my favourite columnist, that makes this Great Britain, Not Rubbish Britain. A word of warning, however, to that Indian-owned manufacturer. Do not think of rewarding Gaunty – a Jag driver – for this lavish plug, either with a discount on or indefinite "loan" of a car. The notion of betraying his loyal army of readers by compromising his journalistic integrity would be anathema, and he'd turn on you so fast he'll make the "brilliant XKR model" he test drove last week look like Andy Marr's pale blue Skoda.
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