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

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
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: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower