Matthew Norman's Media Diary

Mystery of Johnson and Johnson

APOLOGIES FOR the dominance of the one obvious subject, but in a bid to imbue it with a veneer of class I start with a variant on an old question to our top-ranked gene-experts. Would Richard Dawkins or Steve Jones explain, given the posited supremacy of genetic inheritance, how the world's most opinionated man Paul Johnson, could have sired a son like the Channel 4 chairman, Luke? For those who missed Luke's magnificent Today programme appearance last week, so uncannily accurate was his impression of Forrest Gump that he seemed certain to answer the first question with: "My papa told me TV's like a box of chocolates... you nivver know wha' you're gonna git." As it turned out, he didn't manage even that, kicking off with a spirited "no comment" before referring all subsequent enquiries to a pre-issued statement. As Jim Naughtie pointed out, it seemed that the only person in the country with nothing to say on the cause célèbre was the chairman of the company responsible for it.

How this restaurateur came by the post has always been a mystery. I yield to no man living in my appreciation of his decision to shrink the pizzas when he owned Pizza Express. It was a bold and imaginative move, but whether it qualified him for the chairmanship of a part-state-sponsored terrestrial network is probably open to debate. All that aside, the sadness here is encapsulated in that dismal "no comment". To be the son of a man liable to rattle off a thousand words of livid commentary on finding a snowdrop poking through a Bayswater pavement stone, but have no view about the allegation that his own channel broadcasts racist bullying for profit... I wish I had the words to express the pathos.

Luke's tenure at Channel 4 expires this year. I say give the lad another chance. All he needs is to spend some time with the old man, and Paul's limitless talent for opinionising should reactivate his latent ability to form a human thought.

* EXONERATED FROM any criticism, however, is Channel 4's director of television, Kevin Lygo, my cousin by marriage (whom I have never met). Despite being the executive ultimately responsible for all output, Kevin was equally reticent when approached for his thoughts late last week, refusing even to come to the phone. But you'll find nothing but support for Kevin here, because a family divided is a family broken. If the story of Jade's downfall ensuing as soon as her mother, Jackiey, left the BB house teaches us anything, it teaches us that.

* MEANWHILE, although richly impressed by the emergence of so many anti-racism warriors in the red-tops - who'd have thought the very columnists who take such a trenchant line on mass immigration, such as the effete Fergus Shanahan of The Sun, would turn on Jade and co with such convincing wrath? - I'm more baffled than ever by their attitude to the "asterisking" of rude words. Even more perplexing than The Sun's preference for "t*t", often a centimetre from a picture of the real thing, was the Daily Mirror's approach last week on its CBB spread. Polly Hudson's amusing round-up of the various contestants' form carried the ironic phrase "no shit", while the news report on the same page quoted Jade using the word "s***". As for the styling "a**e", who the hell do they think buys the bleeding paper? Someone needs to produce guidelines, and I'll be speaking to Sir Christopher Meyer at the PCC, the man instructed to "get up the White House's a**e" on becoming ambassador to Washington, forthwith.

* AS FOR Polly's colleague Paul Routledge, the Mirror's working-class-hero-in-chief touched on the subject himself when writing about Gordon Brown's trip to India. "Unbelievable that a chancellor on a foreign tour should have to apologise for a junk TV programme," observed Routers. "It shows that in today's world of 24-hour media, bad news travels faster than a jet plane." How very true this is. But is it any truer now than when the international telephone call first came into being?

* AS FOR Esther Rantzen, tremendous to hear her taking to the airwaves on Friday to demand that Luke and my cousin Kevin at C4 give the profits from that night's eviction vote to charity (as those fabled altruists indeed did). If Esther does have a fault, it's that she simply cares too much, which is why she made those TV commercials for one of those delightful firms that help people consolidate their loans. So I'd like to make it plain that her suggestion was entirely unrelated to the near-identical one made the night before on Question Time by our most beloved Shami Chakrabarti.

* FINALLY, LEAVING that tired old subject at last, a plea to Melanie Phillips. It has been far, far too long since Mad Mel treated Daily Mail readers to one of her typically balanced, carefully nuanced treatises on the matter of Israel and the Palestinians. What explains this Luke-Johnson-style reticence I've no idea (it's hardly as though she'd have taken instructions to steer clear of the subject by anyone at the paper), but I can't wait much longer for another instalment, and in this I know I speak for millions.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
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

Head of Business Development and Analytics - TV

competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...

Head of ad sales international - Broadcast

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you the king or Queen o...

Business Development Manager Content/Subscriptions

£50k + commission: Savvy Media Ltd: Great opportunity to work for a team that ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker