Criticising Piers Morgan is like shooting massive tuna in a bucket. There is the ego, for a start. Then there is the fawning interview style. But we won't kick him for either of these. He's been hammered enough. He even acknowledges the narcissism in television adverts.
And his methods of interrogation seem to work – after all, in many previous episodes of Life Stories we’ve come away knowing something we didn’t know previously. Or at the very least we got to see celebrities and sports stars in tears or at their seemingly most unguarded moments. So expectations were high when it was announced that Mo Farah would be in the hotseat.
Would we hear about the torment he went through after his coach was accused of administering drugs to his Nike training partner? Would he open up about the weeks of intense media focus and insinuations?
Or perhaps we’d find out how vindicated and loved he felt after winning his fifth world title last month? Or anything from his experiences this year, the most tumultuous of his athletic career... the weather in July where he spent his summer training in Font Romeu, for instance? His delight at his wife expecting his fourth baby?
Do you know what? We didn’t find out any of these things. Mainly because the programme was recorded in April.
April. To put that in context, it was before the Australia cricket team arrived on English shores. Or in terms of Farah’s athletic career, a million years ago.
We had a clue within the first few seconds that the show was stale when Morgan introduced his subject as having won three world championship medals, rather than the five he now has, after Beijing last month. Soon after, Denise Lewis, the former heptathlete, repeated the then-fact that Mo had three world titles to his name.
That’s not to say the interview wasn’t engaging. Farah, despite his near-constant “media grin” – the empty smile sportspeople maintain when they are not actually interested in saying anything of note in an interview – was humorous and Morgan seemed genuinely gobsmacked at his subject’s training regime.
But there was something missing. To hear that Farah used to take the stimulant khat, or to hear how he shares a telepathy with his twin brother is fine, but it is like learning that Slayer is Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite speed metal band: interesting, but something that falls short of revelatory. Especially given that we know he has been through so much this summer.
Sure, we were promised in the publicity blurbs that Farah would talk about “allegations regarding drug taking”. Which he did. In hypothetical situations.
But we expected better from Morgan, a respected journalist who surely isn’t one for showing something that isn’t quite what it seems in order to make himself look good. Except for those faked “Iraqi prisoner” photos that got him the sack from the Daily Mirror. But apart from that...
Cheap digs aside, Morgan did himself no favours with the airing of the Farah interview: viewers would be quite within their rights to use the “lazy journalism” catch-all when hacks don’t report what they want, because he failed to ask the questions everyone wanted asked – and answered. And for someone who hauls such a massive ego around with him, that’s got to hurt.
Heck, we didn’t even get any tears.Reuse content