Saturday, October 28, 2017

Should John Humphrys retire from Today?

The Today programme this morning, which featured Michael Gove's deeply unfunny joke about Harvey Weinstien, was a self-congratulatory affair marking its 60th birthday.

I gave up listening to Today once I acquired a digital radio and discovered the old comedies on Radio 4 Extra, which are a much better way to start the day.

It's not just that the news is so depressing these days: I find I was moaning about Today in Liberal Democrat News years ago.

One of the many problems with Today is John Humphrys. Too often his interviewing his based on his prejudices, which became tedious years ago.

It is tempting to attribute this to his age, but I suspect he has always been like that. So let's just say that the team of presenters needs to be refreshed and Humphrys is the first candidate to stand down.

Anyway, Humphrys' longevity in the role reminds me of a story about Alistair Cooke and Letter from America.

When I was a teenager Cooke was regularly held up as an example of a great broadcaster, but he always struck me as on old bore.

It seems the BBC agreed with me. Legend has it that in the 1970s an executive was dispatched to New York to take Cooke to dinner and broach the subject of his retirement.

He bottled it, with the result that Letter from America ran until a few weeks before Cooke died in 2004 at the age of 95.

It sounds an apocryphal tale, but John Osman names the BBC man involved as the producer Alastair Osborne.

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