Jenas, Dimbleby, Lineker

Another day off today makes it sound like I’ve been doing nothing but this week has already been busy. Written two long articles (the second should appear ahead of tonight’s Vice Presidential debate) in addition to my other duties including pushing a wheelchair to a blood clinic. I’m still knackered and suffered a little yesterday by forgetting to eat all day. Always a bad move. Now feeling pretty lousy as I try to get myself rebalanced. Note to self: look after yourself, you idiot.

Other than news from the U.S., I’ve been pretty much out of the loop regarding domestic politics except I just noticed a clip from last night’s The One Show. Call me an enabler of the establishment but I’m something of a David Dimbleby fan. Always liked him and particularly after he replied to my Stan letters. Nice guy and, yes, I’m really that fickle.

Yet Dimbleby belongs to an age that’s now almost gone; an age when the BBC was Morcombe and Wise with Parkinson on a Saturday night. Alongside David Attenborough, Dimbleby was the BBC I loved and the BBC I suppose I still want to support. I sometimes forget that the BBC I remember isn’t the BBC as it exists now. I watch so little of it, it’s always a shock to see what it’s become.

Last night he was a guest on The One Show, talking about the government’s response to COVID-19. He made the point I’ve been making from the beginning that the government’s messaging hasn’t been great and, despite the odd minor success, they’re still not particularly good at indicating the general direction they expect us all to be moving in. He was reflecting, I guess, the sense that Johnson is again aping Trump, speaking out of both sides of the mouth at the same time. Wear your masks but not wearing your masks is a virtue of being British. Boo and hurrah!

I only mention Dimbleby because the host of the show, former footballer Jermaine Jenas, shut him down, saying that they didn’t want to “get into that”.

Actually, I would like to “get into that”. I’d love to hear Dimbleby’s considered views. What I really don’t want to hear are the opinions, censorious or otherwise, of a former footballer and I don’t care who they are. This is the Gary Lineker Syndrome, whereby people’s fame grossly exceeds the contributions they make. Why on earth is Jenas presenting an early evening magazine show? What happened to all the poor journalists who slogged their way through TV, media, and broadcasting degrees? What exactly does Jenas bring to the operation other than, I guess, the footballer’s great social ability of being able to shoot snot across a room?

The fact that Lineker is famous distracts people from noticing what an absolutely shambolic excuse for a presenter he really is. For the £million+ he earns from the BBC, what he actually provides is pitiful. “Yes, Alan, that’s where I’d hang around at the back post… Ha, ha, ha! That’s how I scored most of my goals, the ball coming off my shin… Ha, ha, ha! I lucked into this job because I was a former England captain who pointed out that Gazza was crying… Ha, ha, ha!”

There are plenty of good football podcasts now and I’d like to suggest that the BBC throw £50,000 at one of those unknown but knowledgeable presenters and use the remaining £million+ on something more worthwhile than Lineker or, for that matter, Jenas.

As a pundit talking about the sport they know: fine. But presenting? That’s work for people who are trained in that industry. I wonder how either would feel if Spurs announced that the next match would see Emily Maitlis playing as their false number 9…

4 thoughts on “Jenas, Dimbleby, Lineker”

  1. Is this symptomatic of the new guidance on “balance”? People scared of not appearing balanced so better to say nothing at all? Watched Have I Got News For You the other night and found it heavy going – felt like “balance” was being crowbarred in a number of times.

    The other point is like my pet hate which is celebrities presenting travel shows – I want to know about the places they go to, not about them. But I think Emily Maitlis would be great at anything she does – if nothing else, she could give a new perspective and I for one would watch it just for that.

    1. I think you’re right. Nobody can talk about anything without offending one or the other side in the culture war. Not sure it works or serves us particularly well, this “balance”. There’s the notion that satire has to be balanced, which is ridiculous. Produces the kind of boring back and to like you said about HIGNFY. It’s about punching up, especially at the people in power. The opposition isn’t the target — unless they’re being utterly ridiculous.

      As for celebs: yes, I agree, though I also know that it’s the people on these shows that usually attracts people to watching them. We’re children of the celebrity culture and it’s hard to avoid it ourselves. I might claim to be immune but they only need to announce that, say, Steven Martin or Larry David are taking part in something to make me watch it.

    1. So true! There’s a bit difference between true stars and the kind of nobodies that get free holidays out of the BBC…

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It’s a cool domain name and it was available. Yes, I know. Available. Crazy, isn’t it?


Yes. It also helps that it’s also my favourite satire written by Alexander Pope, one of the most metrically pure English poets who also knew his way around a crude insult or two. If you’ve not read it, you should give it a try.

So this is satire, right?

Can’t deny it. There will be some. But it’s also an experiment in writing and drawing, giving work away for free in order to see how many people are willing to support a writer doing his thing. It’s the weird stuff that I wouldn’t get published elsewhere in this word of diminishing demands and cookie-cutter tastes.