Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Look Back in Languor • Lynne Harvey • 2 December 2001

It’s a different shape, not quite pear, but definitely orange, with so much squeezed in a small area. Of course, who else but Dick and Jude, back in their own weekday show, Richard & Judy on Channel 4.  Dickie as arrogant as ever, Judy the shivering housewife who got lucky.

Still, the programme itself is nae too bad, even though it races along, giving no time to anything or anybody – excepting showbizzy mates Amanda Holden and Les Dennis “talking for the first time about their relationship difficulties” – this means Amanda’s affair with Neil Morrissey – but no mention of that was heard, only, “We just want to tell everyone we’re happy now and we’re over it” – okay, so use your showbizzy mates to do just that. Sorted.

Personally, I would have liked to take Jonathon Ross and his lovely wife and put them in this slot. Not that Jonathan is underused, but just put in the wrong things which don’t always show off what he’s really capable of.

Take his talk show on BBC 1; he seems to be doing it with his hands behind his back, gagged in some way, and Jonathon Ross gagged is like Mick Jagger naked – a skinny old geezer: put his designer clothes on and he’s a superstar luvvie and part of the establishment.

Also, what the hell is that Mr Average doing alongside Mr Ross? How many times have we watched the TV and said, “Well I could do that”?  This time you could – we all could. He disappears when a guest comes on and comes back to … what? Banter with Rossy? Hardly. Jonathon Ross can do it on his own, thank you very much. Leave him to it.


If you were a radio producer, you’d probably want to employ people who had great radio voices, interesting radio voices, with something to say; maybe an American voice to add interest. I can dig it, but oh what folly, someone has employed probably the most annoying radio voice in the history of radio. His name is Charlie Wolf and he appears like a bad smell when you least expect it, on talkSPORT (formerly Talk Radio). Cheesy? This man has half a pound of Cheddar under each armpit and probably wraps Brie round his mike.

I don’t want to frighten anyone, so I’ll just say he’s on late night around 1am, mostly weekends, but be careful out there and check radio listings in case you hear him by mistake.

Even he loses out to the cheesiest voice I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot) on local radio — one Colin Young on BBC Radio Shropshire. To hear is to believe. He finishes his show every day with the line “Mind the trams”.

Ever wondered why most local radio has to appeal to those of a nervous disposition who’ve never been out of their own village? Exceptions are there – and rare — noticeably BBC Radio Merseyside, who have a whole raft of good presenters and a tremendous standing in Merseyside. Wit, genuine humour and understanding of their community shine through – with not a whiff of cheddar. Is it because they don’t look down on their audience and don’t have to pretend to be a presenter for three hours a day? No matter how much some local presenters want to appear as just normal, affable, characters you could talk to if you saw them in the supermarket, my bet is the smile would only last as long as the backslap. Are there awards for most cheesy, annoying radio presenters? Perhaps we should start them.


For all those people who stopped buying Private Eye for whatever reason – some after Ian Hislop took over, some because they needed a break from all the black & white small print and turned their attention to OK! and Hello (as if), TAKE OUT A SUBSCRIPTION NOW. There’s been a hiatus, I admit, but something happened – it got funny again.

C’mon – how many publications have legit small ads as strange and wacky as the Eye? Aren’t you sick of leafing through fatuous, empty mags on train journeys? Want something real to read? Want to get your attention span up to five minutes and not five seconds? Then buy the Eye. ‘It’s Grim up North London’, ‘Supermodels’ and ‘Pseuds Corner’ are just for starters, and the letters page has missives from wannabe wits and figures of the establishment answering back.  So they do read it then.

Above all, it’s needed in a world where quite a lot is being brushed under the Wilton. Private Eye picks it up and puts the dirt on display – the fact that some people don’t like this and get litigious make it a very important publication.

I wonder if Jeffrey Archer will be suing Channel 5 when he gets out of Chokey: he’s been called much less than a psychopath and stormed into the law courts (What Makes Jeffrey Archer Tick – 28 November). Channel 5 might have to sharpen their lawyers when he comes out. The programme dug deep, and came out with some quite well-reasoned arguments – bit of a shock for Channel 5. The conclusion is that he’s unstable and a compulsive liar.

Judging by the taped conversations to ladies of the night and ‘friends’, lying comes as easily as falling off a slippery log. It was so very, very, obvious his background had a lot to do with it; called Tuppence in his mother’s local newspaper column, bullied at school, always trying to appear something he wasn’t and with a father who was a swindler to boot – who’d have thought that nice Mr Archer with such a fragrant wife could be such a nutter?


A mention for Mary Whitehouse who died last week, who was so “disgusted” at what she saw on TV. As people who read this column will know, I’m no friend of bland, insipid, safe television, but equally I’m no fan of porn and violence as dished up on Channel 5. Sex as cornflakes, violence as something to excite and, combined, a lifestyle option. Regulation a thing of the past. Yes, we do need someone, somewhere to say “This is too much, fine if you want it, but get it elsewhere”.


This week saw the passing of George Harrison, “the quiet Beatle”. It really is hard to believe that there are only two Beatles left in the world – aren’t they supposed to be there forever? Aren’t they our background? Our establishment? It seems the rug gets pulled from under our feet quite a lot now and the people who made up the background of our lives are fading.

I confess I didn’t know he wrote ‘Something’ and ‘While my guitar gently weeps’. Ashamed to say it. I assumed they were from Paul McCartney‘s pen. ‘My Sweet Lord’, which is magical, speaks not just to believers but to atheists like myself. I believe in the spirit of man, and George Harrison had a beautiful spirit.

Lynne Harvey © 2001

Originally published on 2 December 2001

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