Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I thought TV was show business

I'm intrigued by the implications of this Miriam O'Reilly case. Does this mean that TV companies can no longer do what they've done since time immemorial, which is to shuffle off ageing presenters to "do a few specials, spread your wings, darling" and then gradually forget about them when they start looking a bit tired?

This seems to me the way of the world or at least the television version of the world. I can't understand how television can possibly function if it compromises its single-minded obsession with what things look like. Every TV presenter knows that they occupy a very tenuous position in the hierarchy, a bit more important than the sofa upon which they sit but nothing like as important as the theme tune.

It's not as if it's like real life where competence aces everything else. This is television. If you made it as on-screen talent it's likely that your looks played a huge part in getting you there in the first place and therefore it seems likely that their inevitable decline will play a similar role in your downfall. It's the same if you're in the chorus line at the theatre.


  1. Hired for her looks - on Countryfile?

  2. O'Reilly and Craven were both hired for their looks, or rather their resemblance to badgers.

  3. You usually talk a lot of sense but this is a load of those things ladies don't have. We're talking about a journalist – who, even on TV, is generally supposed to be hired for being a good journalist. Did Andrew Marr's looks play a huge part in getting him there? John Sargent's? Just checked out your Word website BTW. Women journalists - 50/50? Not quite. 50/50 over 50? ... need you ask? Bit of beam in your own eye there perhaps?

  4. I imagine the thing that tipped Ms O'Reilly over the edge is the continual prescence of John Craven (70) on the show. Good journalist though he is, his looks didn't play a big part in getting the gig in the first place. And I bet he doesn't get sarcy comments about his crow's feet and the HD format.

  5. Spot on post Dave.

    Countryfile is an excellent piece of feelgood Sunday evening flim-flam light entertainment and the presenters are "presenters" not journalists. It's not bloody Newsnight.

    I sometimes watch it immediately after recording it purely so I can fast-forward John Craven.

    A Julia Bradbury writes....

  6. Re: John Craven. So does it make it OK if they get rid of him as well? Just saying.

  7. Surely Countryfile is one of the places where you're supposed to see crows' feet?

  8. @ David: you might want to watch that young person's blog-speak you're using there, if Andrew Harrison's column this month is anything to go by. Just saying.

    @ reincheque: tea/monitor interface there. Very good!

  9. Excellent piece. TV execs surely have to choose people on the basis of what they think will work. For whatever reason.

    Otherwise it would be like forcing a football manager to select older players, or players from a certain country, just to maintain a balance.