Watching brief - Amanda Platell takes exception to some TV turkeys
Why did the BBC think it could succeed where Blair failed: to make politics interesting to the young
Fleet Street's grand inquisitor, Paul Foot, died on 18 July, aged 66. Writing in the London Evening Standard, Francis Wheen paid tribute to "one of Britain's greatest journalists".
"Working on the assumption that most powerful people are up to no good, he took boyish delight in having his suspicions confirmed," Wheen wrote.
Michael White in the Guardian described him as "the most seductive revolutionary journalist of his generation".
Although few shared Paul Foot's Trotskyite politics, he was well loved on the left and admired by those on the right. White wrote: "It was widely accepted that, come the revolution, Paul would vote against his old bourgeois friends being shot and be shot himself not long afterwards."
My abiding memory of Paul Foot is of his tireless fight for the jobs of his staff when his team was made redundant at the Mirror. Unlike many of the bosses at the time, he was more concerned for the people who worked for him than for himself. We were always on opposite sides of the fence, but it was impossible not to respect his integrity.
It may simply be that colleagues of Natasha Kaplinsky are jealous of her beauty, her success and her dancing skills, but I'm finding it hard to find any of them, especially women, who have a nice word to say about her.
A piece in the Mail on Sunday claimed her meteoric rise was the result of a "talent for charming men", especially influential ones. When Dermot Murnaghan, co-presenter of BBC's Breakfast, is on the sofa with her, she never takes her enormous - I want to lick you all over - eyes off him, except to read the autocue. Yet when he was replaced by Mishal Husain recently, Natasha looked at her as though she was a jar of the MRSA virus with the lid off. Her fans, and I did find one, say she only did Strictly Come Dancing for charity and it had nothing to do with her thirst for celebrity. It was supporting Sport Relief. Are you sure that wasn't Natasha Relief?
It was a valiant attempt, but why should the BBC succeed where Tony Blair has failed, in trying to make politics interesting to young people? The biggest turkey in Greg Dyke's yoof initiative was Weekend, hosted by Rod Liddle and Kate Silverton (if only Liddle had run off with Silverton instead of that posh former secretary). The other fowl offering was Clive Anderson's The Sharp End. Alas, a fine broadcaster with a difficult remit - to make British politics amusing. (Then again, Rory Bremner manages it.)
The winners are Jeremy Vine's excellent Politics Show, which has increased its audience to more than a million; Question Time, which has added 561,000 under-45 viewers; and Andrew Neil's This Week, politics for grown-ups and stay-ups.
For a while, I remember being concerned that the government was refusing to put its big hitters up for Question Time, but the viewers seem to prefer the show without them: nothing is more boring than a front-bench politician so whipped that they haven't a sincere thing to say for themselves.
I did the newspapers on Breakfast With Frost last Sunday with the charming Antony Beevor, author of the bestselling Stalingrad. I commented on the Sunday Times's excellent profile of Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. All struggling authors take heart: Haddon had five unpublished adult novels before that stonking success - it's sold more than a million in three months. Beevor said many writers don't even start to hit their stride until their fifth or sixth book. Stalingrad was number six for him.
It was an almost impossible act to follow - wife Rachel Royce's diary of an affair, two weeks running in the Daily Mail, after Rod Liddle dumped her and their two kids for a former secretary and would-be journalist called Alicia Munckton (and not, it appears, the well-connected Monckton we had earlier assumed).
Yet Rod's self-deprecating piece in the Times was a study in contrition and restraint. It was even amusing. But I don't think any of us was convinced about his alibi for the Viagra. Methinks he doth protest too much.
It's not often that a newspaper spoofs its own first edition, as the News of the World did on Sunday, changing from "Best: I'm bedding wife of tycoon" to "Sven's secret affair". The surprise for all in the first splash was George Best's claims of sexual prowess, given that only months ago he claimed he couldn't have fathered a love child while married to Alex, because he was impotent.
Anyway, over to Love Rat II. A friend said of the woman's assets: "It's easy to see why she would have caught Sven's eye." Let's face it, a female cadaver would catch Sven's eye.