Spare a thought for Today's barmy army

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The Independent Online
The people on Radio 4's Today programme have asked me to remind you that voting is still open in their Personality of the Year competition. The full list of candidates for the Today Programme Personality of the Year is as follows:

6 The Bishop of the West Midlands

The Bishop of the West Midlands is a regular on Thought for the Day. Here is a sample quote from one of his recent Thoughts: "Like many of us, I was bitterly disappointed not to win anything in the Lottery on Saturday. But then I thought, well, Our Lord never bought a lottery ticket and did He complain? I think not. Did he apply for lottery funds to build his church? I think not. Jesus and his 12 disciples were, in a very real sense, street theatre, but were they subsidised? Of course not. Wel, that's all the parallels I can think of between the National Lottery and Jesus, so it's back to Jim."

6 The man who does the sport at 7.25 and again at 8.25

The man who does the sport is sometimes called Gary Richardson and sometimes not, but whatever name he goes under he has been universally praised for never boasting when his racing tips win. Indeed, he never apologises when they do not win. Indeed, nobody ever knows if they win or lose. Indeed, there is a school of thought which says that they are not real horses but names made up by Gary Richardson to avoid controversy. If indeed Gary Richardson is Gary Richardson's real name.

6 Malcolm Rifkind

Malcolm Rifkind is a favourite with many listeners, not for his foreign policy, which nobody can quite identify, but for his accent, which nobody can quite identify either, owing to his continuing, heroic and ultimately unavailing struggle to lose his Scottish tinge. In the words of one listener: "Some weeks I think has finally lost it, and achieved that weary Oxbridge Westminster sound, but the next week it comes creeping back again into his strangulated voice. Fascinating! Well, compared to what he says, anyway."

6 The expert who has been dragged out of his bed at short notice after a disaster, to explain it to the listeners

All our hearts must go out to this poor man, who is being hauled on to the Today programme to help cover last night's big disaster because the Today programme feels it has to cover big disasters, even though nobody knows what has happened or what caused it, especially the expert who has been just dragged from his bed, and who has to face damn fool questions such as, "Well, Mr Osgood, obviously we don't know why this Boeing 747 crashed on take-off killing 350 people, but as editor of Air Crash Monthly what would you say is the most likely cause, bearing in mind similar accidents in the past?"

6 The weather forecaster who has to deal with chatty presenters

This is a nomination for bravery. The bravery, that is, of a weather person at the London Weather Centre, waiting with a beautifully polished script which starts something like: "Well, that depression which has covered Britain for two days is finally moving away into the North Sea ..." , knowing that some would-be informal Today presenter is going to ruin your opening by saying, "Well, it's time to go over to Rob Kettley at the Weather Centre again - so, is it going to rain at the Cup Final, then, Rob?", which makes nonsense of your script. Even worse, if the presenter says, "Well, what chances of a white Christmas this year?" and the weather person has to resist the temptation to say, "What a damn fool question!"

6 Michael Heseltine

For being the only politician who regularly has the courage to point out to the presenter what a damn fool question he is asking.

6 The man or woman on the Today programme who thinks up the damn fool questions

My favourite one is: "So, Minister, what are you going to tell the House this afternoon?" to which the answer is always: "I'm afraid you'll have to wait till this afternoon to find out," though this has never stopped anyone on the Today programme from asking it, or indeed its variant: "Minister, I know you can't tell us exactly what you're going to tell the House this afternoon, but can you give us the rough outline of your statement?" to which the answer is exactly the same.

Still time for more nomintions, if you can face it!

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