The Media Column: Deayton stays, because he has pulling power

One man's schadenhas rarely given so much freude. The comeuppance of Angus Deayton had nearly two million extra viewers tuning in to Have I Got News for You last Friday, presumably to see just how badly the man would be savaged. We were not disappointed. In a strangely public-school performance ("Sorry, Carruthers, it's your turn for the cane, even if you are a fellow prefect") his two co-regulars, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, were so horrible to him that in the end it was the viewers who were left crying for mercy. I saw Bacchai the next day, and there was more left of Pentheus at the end of that – head, ribcage and one bloodied leg – than there was of Angus.

The whole business raised four disconnected thoughts in my mind, which I want to share with you. The first of them is a reflection upon how different the lives of TV stars are from those of journalists, no matter how exalted. There is no scribbler or editor in the whole of the land whose leisure arrangements could give rise to such comment and interest. You may recall the recent "orgy" in a wine bar in London, at which two Evening Standard reporters spotted a "senior Telegraph executive" looking on excitedly at some multiple grope. No one, as far as I know, has even bothered to ask the question of who that naughty chap was.

That is easily understood. The public doesn't much care what print journalists do in private. They have no desire to put a body to the face they cannot see. If that iron pillar of unforgiving rectitude, the columnist Melanie Phillips, were caught in a public act of gross indecency with a gay, Arab asylum-seeker, I don't think her readers would blink an eyelid.

My second point is the observation that the press has revived a profession from post-Cold War disuse. Deayton's blonde nemesis was not, in a conventional sense, a prostitute. Caroline Martin, according to a report in The Sunday Telegraph, makes her living not by charging men for sex, but by charging newspapers for having sex with men.

She has, for instance, already bedded a pair of Manchester United players. In Deayton's case, it seems likely that she was trawling for famous blokes when she spotted him in a Manchester hotel, and it took two weeks of text-messaging for the tryst to be arranged.

So women who seduce married men are being paid by newspapers for our entertainment. It is not entirely clear, in this situation, where the balance of immorality lies.

Point three is to remind readers, should they need it, of the original report in the News of the World, in which Martin posed as a shocked suitor and was described as being very upset to discover that Deayton had a partner and small child. In this coke'n'poke saga, both she and the newspaper should have been perfectly well aware of their target's amatory status. So there is a routine mendacity in some newspapers, which they expect always to get away with. They just lie, if it suits them.

And finally, what about the BBC? It is only a few years back that the Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon was fired for having taken cocaine. No – for having been caught taking cocaine, because coke-sniffing is pretty widespread among telly types.

Go to a conference hotel in Edinburgh during the television festival and – in the evenings – spot the electric-eyed execs as they float past on their white clouds. Bacon's boss, Lorraine Heggessey, now controller of BBC 1, even went on screen to execute the poor man in public. Six months ago, Bacon went on Have I Got News for You with Angus and the team and survived a belated caning with considerable wit.

But there is no way that Deayton will be fired. He is a star, a consummate performer and a witty man. Deayton has a pulling power that poor old Bacon lacked. He will survive.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
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

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick