Watching brief - Amanda Platell observes a very fit PM
How the drama of Ken Livingstone unfolded before our eyes, Tony Blair shows off his six-pack, and th
Oh, the joys of 24-hour news. We were able to watch Ken Livingstone unravel before our very eyes. Observing London's mayor in City Hall on the day he refused to apologise for comments that even his deputy, Nicky Gavron, described as "very offensive" - both to a Jewish reporter for the Evening Standard and to Jews in general - we were front row to a piece of remarkable political theatre.
Yes, I work for the Daily Mail and used to work for the Standard, so no doubt the wild-eyed one will dismiss my comments as part of the 24-year conspiracy against him by the Associated Newspapers group. But there is no getting away from it: what he said was wrong, and he made the insult worse by not apologising. Livingstone, the most politically correct of politicians, knows that better than anyone.
I couldn't help but think that if anyone else had made similarly "offensive" comments (Gavron's word again, not mine) in the mayor's hearing about Muslims, homosexuals or asylum-seekers, he would have condemned them, and rightly so.
What makes it all the more curious was that the Standard, supposedly one of Livingstone's persecutors, told readers to vote for him at the last election. And he was quite happy to take a five-figure sum from the paper for a restaurant column during those ghastly years of oppression.
While we're on the Standard, another apology, this time on behalf of colleagues of the paper's royal correspondent, Robert Jobson. When he wrote several months ago that Charles and Camilla were to wed in the spring, it was greeted with howls of derision, and sniggers that his contract was due for renewal. Now, he has proved his detractors wrong with a magnificent scoop on the wedding of the year for the adulterer of the century - I mean Charles, not Robert.
We all knew the election campaign had begun when Tony Blair appeared on Channel 4's Richard and Judy. The TV sofa is the first bastion of the electioneer. I happened to be on the show that night (but not, funnily enough, with the Prime Minister) and was struck by two things. First, how fit he looks. The man is a walking six-pack. And second, what a consummate performer he is. Even when it came to playing the quiz You Say, We Pay - for which, I can assure you, he was not prepared - Blair pulled it off. And one of the reasons for that is because he does not despise his voters. He may lie to them, but he does not loathe them.
But I wonder sometimes if journalists do. Tuning in to a late BBC Radio 5 Live debate, I heard a commentator say: "Blair was just going for the lowest common denominator, the dumb vote." This went unchecked by the presenter, whose attitude suggested he agreed with his guest. Since when did the millions of students, mums, unemployed people and the elderly who watch Richard and Judy come to deserve such contempt?
The 2005 general election may not bring about a change of political leaders - not for Labour, anyway - but it will be a watershed for political programming at the BBC. The irreplaceable David Frost will have his last Breakfast. And if Jeremy Vine gets his job, what will happen to his own Sunday-lunchtime Politics Show? Was that just a warm-up for Frost's seat? If Andrew Marr gets it, will he hand in his political editorship of the BBC? And if Andrew Neil is successful, what will happen to his Daily Politics and This Week? Perhaps Daisy Sampson will take Neil's daily hot seat.
Poor old Rebecca Loos. After her alleged affair with David Beckham, no bloke would touch her with his bargepole, so she had to resort to pleasuring pigs live on TV to make her mark. Now even the swine have turned their backs on her and she's had to resort to pleasuring herself - yes, live - on Channel 4's Extreme Celebrity Detox. What an appropriate title: ten minutes of Loos feels like colonic irrigation.
The only thing sadder than a beautiful young woman rejected by her footballer lover is a beautiful older woman rejected by her football-manager lover. Enter Nancy Dell'Olio, to present the Opposition Politician of the Year gong at the Channel 4 Political Awards. The normally immaculate Nancy had clearly done her own hair and make-up that night. I could have sworn she lost a couple of hair extensions as she flicked Jon Snow in the face with her long locks - well, someone else's long locks, actually.
All things must pass, as did Paul McCartney's promise that 'Evver, his wife, would withdraw from public life after so much media vilification. Now she's back, on no less than Question Time. With typical modesty, she thinks appearing on the BBC's prime evening political programme is keeping a low profile.