The Andrew Marr show on Sunday morning, BBC. It goes, roughly, like this;
A couple of people, who write for newspapers, reviewing papers that fewer and fewer of us read…. a sort of journalists support group.
Interviews; based on interruption, breaking-in, rudeness and talking-over. Or, Google research…
Question to interviewee; ‘in 1992, in the Nether-Whaping Gazette, you said… ‘you didn’t like pickled onions’. Last week you ate one…
Cut to Marr with a gotcha-grin.
Interviewee says; ‘That was before this government put £2bn into pickled onion production which, thanks to us, is now world-class.’
Marr stranded. No follow-up.
It’s dull, repetitive with the occasional brighter moment of an eclectic conversation about a play, none of us will be able to afford to go and see, or some really classy music… the only reason to watch this Sunday-wallpaper, flat, bland and tedious bit of 1990’s telly.
The music is always good. The trouble is, it’s usually at the end, so you have to plough your way through the dross.
If this show was a shop it would be John Lewis, if it was a flavour it would be vanilla. If it was a web-site, it would sell gardening gloves.
I watched last Sunday because Sir Simon Stevens was doing a turn.
Something happened. It was different. Marr discovered a sense of respect, he listened. Yes, he ploughed through a list of questions (Marr doesn’t do conversation), but he did give the boss time and space to answer.
That was where the magic happened. The answers were full, complete, delivered with competence, insight, spontaneous and thoughtful.
I saw Marr in a different light. He is used to talking to a rag-bag of politicians who are only there to tell him lies. You can’t really interview someone who doesn’t respect the truth, or wants to manipulate it.
He’s as fed up doing it, as we are watching it.
There has to be an unspoken contract; when asked a decent question, the person answering will play the game, play by the rules and pay, at least, lip-service, to the actuality.
Modern politics has become all about designing a narrative and sprinkling glitter on a cow-pat. Media management. Few interviewers cope.
Track and Trace, testing, PPE, care homes, the R-number, lockdown we have all seen endless interviews and the public still don’t know what insiders know, because communications professionals are paid to make sure they don’t.
Marr was at a loss because he was in the company of someone who told it like we all know it is.
We built the Nightingales faster than China.
Were they an overreaction. No, we build them because the ‘scientists’ told us to expect 2,000 admissions a day.
We cleared 33,000 beds of which under 3% went to private care homes… not run by the NHSE but eventually rescued by our nurses, infection control experts and millions of pounds of public money, to provide them with PPE and testing.
Testing didn’t have the volumes needed, nothing to do with NHSE, but now being sorted by NHS managers.
Track and Tracing, badged NHS, but actually a DH and private sector operation.
No, we didn’t run out of staff because NHSE people pulled together and the retired came back to help, in their thousands.
Marr read out a bit in the papers; ‘the NHS is at odds with the Treasury over £10bn…’ not true. End-of.
Marr, desperate to find fault or failure had nowhere to go. Marr can’t cope with success, or anything close.
Then, out of nowhere, came the blockbuster. Stevens announced he wants the shilly-shallying over social care and its funding, settled within a year.
He knows, what we know. Social care is on its knees and care homes, with minimum-wage staff, inadequate training, poor investment and sloppy regulation, will go crash and go broke.
My guess is, he will get his way. Why say it if you didn’t think you were in with a chance?
Marr went back to his list of questions. Missed the moment.
I’m pleased I didn’t.