The Media Column: 'Our political editors (like our police officers) are some of the finest in the world'

My eldest daughter and I now inhabit two different cultural worlds, and ­ as ever ­ hers is the one that prevails. There are two sorts of TV programme that she likes to watch and upon which she will insist with an obduracy that makes mules seem biddable. The BBC soaps EastEnders and Casualty ­ endless blood and shouting ­ are one part of this hellish agenda, and the shows that invite you to vote by phone for yet another set of barely talented teenagers are another.

The problem is that ­ Daniel Deronda notwithstanding ­ there seem to be dozens of shows in the latter category, filling the schedules. Either that or there are really just a few but they go on for years and years, grinding down the viewers with a ghastly series of mediocre performances, tearful exits and little jumps for joy. I may have BBC4 and UK History on my digital set, but I can see that I am not going to be able to watch them for another decade.

Nevertheless, this being the long run-up to Christmas, the news is not all bad. You may not yet have realised how well we are being served by the two major terrestrial broadcasters when it comes to political editors.

Of course, you will have clocked Andrew Marr over on the BBC, where he is enjoying one of those phases when commissioners throw programmes and compliments at you and you don't quite like to say no. TV people (and I know and love many of them) were deceivers ever, and television is essentially a branch of the fashion industry. No one ever tells you that you are washed up ­ they just stop calling. One day soon, they probably will.

But it's not as a high-class Jeremy Clarkson that we should value Marr, but as a top-rate communicator and analyst doing, arguably, the most important job in British journalism. Even better, Marr brings to TV a quality that the medium often overlooks ­ he can write. He is not forced ­ through sheer poverty of expression ­ into clichés and inevitable pairs. Those at the right-wing papers who doubted his ability to do the job fairly have fallen silent.

Interestingly, no one complained about the appointment of ITN's new political editor, Nick Robinson ­ even though, back in the mid-Eighties, Robinson was national chairman of the Young Conservatives. Perhaps it was because the press had already had a chance to hear him broadcasting and presenting and knew that he was good. Perhaps it was also because liberal newspapers are nicer and more open-minded than horrible right-wing ones.

When I went to the BBC in 1988 to start up the On the Record programme on BBC1, I inherited Robinson from the existing show, This Week, Next Week. It was a bit of a shock, because the prejudice with which I entered the BBC was that it had precious few good, analytical journalists (as opposed to grandstanding egotists). It was obvious from early on that Robinson shared some of the qualities that Andrew Marr possesses.

Neither of them is a hater of politicians; both were politically active in their youth, and maintained an understanding of what it is to have to make choices. They see the politicians' dilemmas ­ they can inhabit their shoes. If you can do that, you will be better able to spot what lies behind the evasions and formulations. And ­ very important this ­ much less likely to run with the media pack when a story breaks.

None of that helps me with my daughter. She is not inclined to look at Marr standing outside No10, or Robinson doing a two-way from College Green, and see in him anything more than an unwelcome diversion from the serious business of deciding whether Leroy should stay and Sinead should go.

Even so, I want to be the first to suggest that our television political editors (like our deep-cast mines and our police officers) are some of the finest in the world.

david.aaronovitch@btinternet.com

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim Balotelli acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

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

International Promotions Manager - Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: A global entertainment busi...

Head of Finance - Media

£80000 - £90000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: Working for an International Mul...

Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

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
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
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
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster