In a shocking turn of events, Tudor historian David Starkey has reportedly blamed the downturn in his career on forces outside of his control. According to the Daily Mail diary editor, Sebastian Shakespeare, the 73-year-old writer and television presenter believes he is too attractive to get on television anymore.
Shakespeare writes that Starkey told him: “The only chance I have of being on TV again is if I were very ugly. I think only old, ugly women can get on TV. Like Mary Beard.” After this allusion to the professor of classics at Cambridge University, he explained that he’d only be hired now if he had “‘tombstone’ teeth and rather funny hair and made a lot of noise about that fact”.
The historian also attributed Beard’s substantial career success to an infamous review by the journalist A. A. Gill back in 2012, which focused on Beard’s looks rather than the TV programme she was presenting. “If he hadn’t have been so rude about her, we’d have never heard of her,” said Starkey of the author of 18 books.
Starkey’s new position is something of a reverse from 2010, when he complained that writers such as Amanda Foreman, known for her book Georgiana, Duchess Of Devonshire, used the fact that they were “usually quite pretty” to garner attention.
Sadly, it seems, Starkey has been thwarted by a fickle TV industry that only wants female historians that look a certain way. It’s definitely not to do with his 2014 Question Time appearance, in which he argued that violence rather than consent should be the legal measure of rape.
Or his deep dive into the causes of the London riots in 2011 on Newsnight, in which he alleged that “a substantial section of the chavs… have become black. The whites have become black,” and blamed this for how “Jamaican patois” has “intruded in England… is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country”. And certainly nothing to do with his appearance on the national television show, Jamie’s Dream School, in which he said to one student: “You’re so fat you couldn’t really move.”
Poor David Starkey. Let’s just hope the trend for fat-shaming dog whistlers comes round again.