Saturday, February 02, 2013

Time for Sandi Toksvig to give up The News Quiz

I don't listen to Radio 4's The News Quiz much these days. In its day it was something of a trailblazer, but today panel shows with comedians commenting on the week's news have gone very stale. In fact it can be hard to avoid them on the higher-numbered television channels.

Besides when I do catch the programme, it has lost its charm. The reason is its host, Sandi Toksvig.

I was never her greatest fan: she seemed to think that putting on a funny voice was they key to comedy. In fact she was one of those people (think Dick Stawbridge or Sue Perkins) who popped up so often as celebrities that you had rather forgotten what they were famous for in the first place.

But these days there is a bigger problem with Toksvig: her partiality.

There was a time when Sandi Toksvig was a very public Liberal Democrat. There was talk of her being shortlisted for Cambridge when David Howarth announced he was standing down.

And at our Autumn Conference in 2004, as the warm up act for Ming Campbell's big speech, she thanked us all for coming to the event. I do not know in what capacity she was doing this, but she clearly thought herself qualified.

She is not so keen on us now. Every time I hear her present The News Quiz her script is full of barbed comments aimed at the Liberal Democrats in general and Nick Clegg in particular. No other political party is subject to a tenth of this animosity

I think I know what has happened. Sandi Toksvig moves in circles where showbiz left views are pretty much obligatory. (Jeremy Hardy is even a member of the SWP. How cool is that?)

When Toksvig announced her support for the Lib Dems I imagined all her friends laughed at her. And now the Lib Dems have turned out not to be the improved Labour Party they sometimes presented themselves as in those days (a sort of Roy Hattersley on roller skates), she feels betrayed.

Well, a lot of us our finding some of the policies the Lib Dems have signed up to hard to take, but we manage to act professionally in our day jobs.

If Sandi Toksvig cannot chair The News Quiz in a way that displays equal contempt for all parties then she give the job up in favour of someone who can.


Anonymous said...

I think you have to allow some latitude to those of us who were naive enough to believe that the Lib Dems were better than the generality of politicians, and who have been pretty comprehensively disillusioned.

Anonymous said...

I think the problem you may be having with Sandy Toksvig is that she is both highly intelligent and extremely funny. It's a bit difficult for the LibDems to take now that they are (sort of) in power.

James said...

I was thinking this myself today. Don't get me wrong, I'm able to laugh at my own party, especially when the satire lands close to the bone. There's a line from a Peep Show episode c. autumn 2010 which had me rolling around on the floor - 'I'm just following orders, just like Vince Cable' - because it tapped into the fact that, in his first days of office, Vince did look profoundly uncomfortable. Ditto an article for a small satirical publication which portrayed Nick Clegg announcing a 'new, progressive invasion of Iraq' and showing a plastic card with the word DEFICIT on it to answer any critical questioning. It's funny because it's original, and because it speaks to some kind of truth, like all the best satire.

But frankly a lot of anti-Lib Dem stuff is just becoming boring, to me at least. Yes, we get it, Clegg is a pathetic weasel/dastardly traitor, but you've been telling the same joke for nearly three years now and it's quickly ceasing to be funny. The whole 'LOL CLEGG IS DAVID CAMERON'S BITCH' thing smacks to me of immaturity and homophobia. And isn't it all just a bit of a caricature? Aren't Nick Clegg's motives more complicated - and therefore worthy of far more *interesting* and amusing comedy - than a quick cheap joke to segway into another segment?

That said, I do like Toksvig, who obviously is obviously very intelligent. And Jeremy Hardy can be funny, especially in terms of his observational comedy, although his intemperate rants on the News Quiz usually just make me squirm. Perhaps the answer is a new producer?

Gareth Aubrey said...

At the very least, I think we were spoiled by the Rory Bremner (and to a certain extent John Culshaw) era and the Spitting Image era before it where the satirists actually probed the characters of the people involved, to the extent that the combination of the Bremner and Culshaw Blairs really shaped perception of him.

By contrast, after nearly three years of coalition, the joke has only moved from "Clegg's so happy that he's Cameron's fag" to "Clegg's so sad that he's Cameron's fag and we've actually learned nothing about them. Crikey, even an Alexander-as-Squirrel puppet would be better than the endless chummy bonhomie that ensues.

Anonymous said...

I listened and there is some vicious sniping so I wanted to listen to another episode to compare however it is not possible.

Is this just a knee jerk reaction to one program or is this program typical to the series.

However I do not think she made any comment which could not have been made by other comedians regarding this so called alliance.

Anonymous said...

So you want to get rid of her because she no longer agrees with your point of view? Very liberal.