Watching brief - Amanda Platell reviews a bad week for bosoms
My election-night winners and losers, a bad week for bosoms at News International, and the similarit
Elections do not just make or break politicians, they also profoundly affect the reputations of the journalists who cover them. Election 2005 brought the signing-off of the Today programme's irreplaceable John Humphrys, who had an outstanding campaign - as did the BBC's Andrew Marr, Channel 4's Jon Snow, Newsnight's Martha Kearney and ITV's political editor, Nick Robinson, who really came of age. Robinson is in the most difficult of slots, as the thinking end of the electorate will always turn to the BBC or Channel 4 for their politics.
On election night, the BBC's line-up of David Dimbleby, Marr, Jeremy Paxman and Peter Snow was unbeatable, the lovely but lightweight Fiona Bruce only proving that the BBC still lacks a woman (apart from Kearney) with sufficient gravitas even to co-anchor such a show.
But what on earth got into Paxman, who was otherwise brilliant, when he came to interview George Galloway? His initial question - "Are you proud of having got rid of one of the very few black women in parliament?" - was one of the most patronising I have ever heard on British television. It patronised women and black people, and was just downright insulting to a man who had won what any fool could see was a sensational victory.
Paxman is at his least effective when he slips into his Alastair Campbell impersonation. But on BBC London the following day, the hitherto marvellous Emily Maitlis ridiculously aped his style when she interviewed Galloway.
Look to Marr or Humphrys for your inspiration in future, Emily. Despite a brave campaign, there was not the same sense of tragedy when Michael Howard said he would resign as Tory leader as there was when William Hague quit at dawn. That was the moment of pathos in 2001. In 1992, it was the searing image of Neil and Glenys Kinnock in tears outside Labour's Walworth Road HQ.
The image etched into history in 2005 will be of Tony Blair, standing behind Reg Keys after the result was announced in Sedgefield, with something akin to terror in his eyes. Keys, whose soldier son was killed in Iraq, said he hoped there would come a day when Blair would apologise. That's about as likely as David Blunkett ever thinking he's done anything wrong.
Another fatality of the election was the Blairs' privacy. After that extraordinary "five times a night" interview in the Sun where the couple were happy to discuss even their sex life, it is difficult to see how any topic could be taboo. It was hailed as their "first ever joint interview". From the ridiculous way they behaved, I suspected they'd just smoked one.
News International staff have just been issued with a new set of Standards of Business Conduct, the latest in politically correct wonkery.
The guidelines strictly prohibit "the display in the workplace of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, including nude photographs". Which makes the casual observer wonder: how will the Sun and the News of the World staff cope when their newspapers are banned from their workplace?
Great news on Saturday: Channel 4 had recommissioned Morgan and Platell for a third series, so I joined my girlfriend Jo at Fenwick's for a spot of celebratory shopping. As we came out of the lift, a lady shopper grinned and said: "You're that woman on TV", but clearly couldn't place me. I smiled, flattered, although I admit she did not look like your typical political-show devotee. As we started to walk away, she exclaimed: "You're in Friends!" I smiled again, benevolently.
"She thinks you're Courteney Cox," Jo whispered, agog. I dropped my head in a most humble way and muttered, "So kind." "No, not Friends," she said, "Fat Friends!"
Passing a miniature fountain complete with feng shui instructions at my local garden centre, I was reminded of the woman who made them so much a part of our lives: Charlie Dimmock of Ground Force. The BBC television show that featured Ms Dimmock's bra-less bosom and provided the best advertisement I've ever seen for always wearing one has been axed, and she is finding it difficult to secure another vehicle for her ample talents. Alas, eight years on prime-time TV, and she's still just two nipples and a water feature.
With the word "respect" still ringing in our ears after it was mentioned 365 times in the Prime Minister's humble speech to the nation from outside No 10, it was mere hours before our new, listening PM demonstrated how much he had changed.
Blair snubbed the VE Day celebrations, banned the Queen from attending them, and then sent John Prescott to the international peace parade in Red Square.