The Word on the Street: 'Mail' and the Beeb, 'Standard' and Paddick, the myth of Reality TV

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The Independent Online

Those who thought they had discerned the hand of Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail, in the paper's anti-BBC coverage last week may have been mistaken. Dacre was actually off all week, and the coverage was masterminded by Alistair Sinclair, joint deputy editor, and Jon Steafel, head of news. Interestingly, Peter McKay's column in yesterday's Mail defended Peter Sissons, going as far as to say that Margaret Rhodes, the Queen Mother's niece, owes Sissons an apology over that much-criticised interview. A week is clearly a long time at Northcliffe House.

¿ Insiders at the London Evening Standard say that there was a bit of a staff revolt (all right – a muted staff revolt) over the paper's leading article saying that the gay police chief Brian Paddick should go. There was also a flood of letters defending Paddick. Standard executives decided to wait before publishing them, until a similar raft of letters came in supporting the Standard's line. Oddly, those letters didn't materialise, and the Standard had to publish the first tranche.

¿ The myth of reality TV is nicely debunked this week by the man who has made a fortune out of it. "Nasty" Nigel Lythgoe, the brains behind Popstars, Pop Idol and the less successful Survivor, says of Survivor in an interview in Heat magazine: "I don't like the phrase Reality TV at the best of times, because as soon as you put a camera in front of someone, reality flies out the window. It was a game show. That was it. There was no reality, in the sense that there was no way I was going to let anyone die out there. It's really bad for press when people die on your show."

¿ Never let it be said that BBC 1 is not fully dedicated to method acting. In pursuit of authenticity, the art historian Tim Marlow was genuinely lashed to the mast of a ship in Grimsby harbour to recreate scenes from the life of the great English painter J M W Turner, who is said to have done likewise. Marlow, safe in his wetsuit, admits that he thought it funny, but fine. Ross Boatman, the aptly named actor who depicted Turner for the programme, was not so lucky. He went green with seasickness.

¿ There was no time to get demob-happy for Mark Ogle, departing press officer from BBC news and current affairs. Most people spend their final week winding down, having long lunches and so on; Ogle gets to handle Tiegate. However, Ogle himself will never have to follow Peter Sissons in donning burgundy at a time of national mourning. His colleagues' farewell gift was a black tie.

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