Monday, 14 February 2011

Great film - shame about the awful presenter! I mean, Jonathan Ross? Really?

Nowadays, on those rare occasions when I hear the words “Presented by Jonathan Ross” or “With your host, Jonathan Ross” or “My next guest is Jonathan Ross”, I check to make sure I’m not watching some ancient repeat on Dave or SkyFoxLivingPlusOneExtraHD. 

I thought this abysmal, foul-mouthed, smutty wretch had been dropped once and for all by the BBC after we’d made it plain that we were tired of having pots of filth regularly flung in our faces. But last week he popped up as the “Star in a Reasonably-Priced Car” on Top Gear . Just to show how brave and unreconstructed he is, Ross instantly loosed a foul-mouthed tirade which had to be bleeped out – naturally, we switched over. And last night, there he was again, with his long hair and beard and no neck and distinctly chunkier than he used to be, hosting the BAFTA Awards on BBC One. We decided to watch the latest, Ross-free Top Gear on TiVo instead. 

But, because we wanted to enjoy the deeply civilised The King’s Speechwinning Best Film, we – albeit reluctantly - caught the last part of the show. 

It may have been me, but I thought I saw a Ceausescu-like dawning in Wossy’s fear-filled eyes that he had well and truly lost whatever rapport he’d once had with the celebrity audience – let alone the public. His pitifully unfunny attempts at humour were falling painfully flat and no one who came up to collect an award appeared to want to have anything to do with him. Maybe it was wishful thinking on my part, but as I recently wrote about Andy Gray and Angus Deayton, once a TV performer has “gone too far”, it becomes the only thing we can think about as we watch them perform: not so much the elephant in the room as the elephant who comes trumpeting across the studio, craps copiously on their heads, and then sits on them. From now on, when we look at or listen to Andy Gray, he will be a crude, sexist bully whose colleagues loathed him - and nothing more - just as Angus Deayton is a coke-fiend who likes three-in-a-bed romps with whores  - and nothing more - and Lionel Barrymore is a gay, party-giving drink-and-drugs enthusiast whose career ended when a young man was found dead in his swimming pool. 

Barrymore’s numerous attempts to refloat his career have suffered the same fate as his unfortunate guest. Gray and his partner-in-crime, Richard Keys, are now plying their trade on distinctly unglamorous Talk Radio, while Deayton’s due to host a new panel show on Radio 4, which will fail, like all the other attempts to revive his career. (The former Sky presenter, John Leslie, was allegedly dropped by ITV from their “I’m A Celebrity” line-up last year – and a career doesn’t get any deader than that.) 

Actors – like footballers – can get into trouble and survive. Craig Charles, for instance, whose career was married by false rape allegations and an alleged fondness for crack cocaine, is, I’m reliably informed, currently inCoronation Street  (a distinct improvement on providing voice-over commentaries for tacky Japanese game show, Takeshi’s Castle, I should imagine), and Wayne Rooney scored one of the greatest goals I have ever seen for Manchester United on Saturday, despite a phenomenally awful nine months that would have killed a TV personality’s career five times over. 

But Jonathan Ross doesn’t have a special talent to fall back on (TV executives don’t like to admit this, because most of them don’t have any definable talent either). All Ross has is his relationship with the public – but because of his tastelessness and arrogance he destroyed that once and for all back in 2008. 

TV offers “personalities” huge rewards – often for not being very good at anything in particular. All they have going for them is momentum supplied by our support (and we should be ashamed of ourselves for encouraging a UCL graduate to behave like a pig). When that’s gone, it’s time for the celebrity to ride off into the sunset, their saddlebags stuffed with swag. It may be too much to expect Ross to do the right thing – but would it be unreasonable to demand that BBC executives forsake the delusion that they can bludgeon us into accepting him again. Face it – it’s well and truly over!

And now that Dawn French has divorced Lenny Henry, couldn’t they also admit that whatever fondness we once harboured for this comedian evaporated over a decade ago, and suggest he books a permanent room at a Premier Inn if he likes the chain so much? Now that’s what I’m talking about!


  1. I did not watch the ceremony precisely because of Ross' participation so I cannot comment on the content. I did want to see Sir Christopher Lee's award, but passed up the opportunity.
    Two comments
    1. Now that Ross is creeping back to the fold [I hate to think of the size of the payment he received out of the Licence Fee - no doubt the BBC outsourced the entire production to his company because of some contractual obligation] I wonder if Charles Moore will revive his campaign.
    2. I had no idea that Lionel Barrymore was an enthusiastic alcoholic and drug addict and had got up to a bit of how's your father in the swimming pool [he was after all confined to a wheel-chair for the last 25-years of his life because of acute arthritis]. I know his brother John was fond of the bottle and his great niece Drew spent her formative years in re-hab. Perhaps you are thinking of Lionel Bart [author of the ghastly "Oliver!"] or Lionel Jeffries [Krautie in "Two Way Stretch"] or Lionel Blair [an even worse song-and-dance man than Brucie]?
    Or, perhaps you're right. I hope the saintly Ethel never found out.
    Monday, February 14, 2011 - 06:05 PM

  2. Good point, SDG - wrong Barrymore!

    I have sacked my sub-editor!
    Monday, February 14, 2011 - 06:59 PM