Evan Davis: Hero or Villain?


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The Independent Online

George seems to be having quite some trouble convincing the Dragon that his figures are adding up. Can he do any better now he has a second chance to make his point?

"There are four different ways you can present our numbers …."

Sorry, George, you're clearly trying to hide something, and for that reason, we're out.

George, of course, being Mr Osborne of No 11, the Dragon being Evan Davis, and "we" being the public, who heard the Radio 4 presenter give Ozzy short shrift on Thursday's Today show as the Chancellor hesitated, repeated and deviated his way through an exercise in attempted obfuscation.

No 10 was so "furious" with Davis that they made an informal complaint to the Beeb – which was about as effective as Osborne himself on Today, given Davis reported that he had "not been told off" for the way he conducted the interview. And how did he conduct it? By asking, simply, whether the national deficit had risen, and refusing to let Osborne rephrase the question in order to spin a more attractive answer.

Davis has been criticised for being a softie compared with his attack-dog colleagues Jeremy Paxman and John Humphrys, allowing politicians to wriggle off the hook. So he should be applauded for refusing to allow any such chicanery here.

The incident will add gravitas to his colourful profile, which has seen him regularly appear near the top of this newspaper's annual Pink List. As the cheery presenter who describes exactly what we've just seen on Dragons' Den, he has been immortalised by Paul Whitehouse on Harry & Paul; as a 50-year-old who wanders down to the shops wearing chains and bovver boots (and who is said to have a Prince Albert down below), he has been demonised by the Daily Mail and cheered by all those who enjoy an individual. And now, as the Dragon who slayed the not-so-saintly George, he has become a hero of the downtrodden. Long may his new-found fire-breathing continue.