Wednesday, August 08, 2007
The Campaign For Scotch News Must Be Resisted, As Life Is Depressing Enough Already
This morning, I was canvassed by a "think tank" on the subject of the Scottish Six, which has been made a priority by the Senior Retainer, Mr Alex Salmond. Mr Salmond, I understand, is in favour of a national news bulletin, edited and produced in Scotland. One may speculate about his motives, and it would surely be too cynical to suggest that he is in favour of Scotch News because it would easier for him to get onto it, even though he remains a Westminster MP, and is thus in the happy position of decrying the institution which pays one of his salaries. (He doesn't much like the Scottish parliament either, though he seems to be getting used to it.)
I understand why the Scotch News is a matter of perennial debate: Scottish journalists would obviously be happy to have more comfortable swivel chairs, pens that light up in the dark, and reinforced trilbies for anxious reports from the rooftops of Holiday Inns in war zones, in which they would tell us that the situation remained tense, but bearable, as the hotel bar stayed open late.
But do we really need Scotch News? I would rather listen to pigs being electrocuted than tune in to Good Morning Scotland, which is an international bulletin in tartan slippers. And much as I admire Ms Jackie Bird, I fear that newsreading is one of the occupations in which the nation's best talent has gone South. Newsnight's Mr Gavin Esler is a fine and sober presence, and Ms Kirsty Wark - though she talks as if her wallies have been gummed together with the grouty remnants of a Tunnock's Caramel Wafer - has the authority, and the dimmed beauty of Miss Jean Brodie.
But the Scottish news programmes are beyond help. Is it, I wonder, because as a nation we find it difficult to stand up and talk in public? Well then, why not provide chairs for our newsreaders? Does the news really have to be so depressing? Scotch News as it is currently formulated is 30% parliamentary hot air, 30% fish, and 40% murder. As a nation, we have a lot of weather, but we also have two weather forecasts: the BBC weather, in which the rain on Caledonia is shown on an electronic map which makes Scotland look like a suburb of Antarctica, and what the former newsreader and television critic Mr Kenneth Roy dubbed "The Wee Weather", in which Heather The Weather, or one of her impersonators, breathlessly describes rain in more words than the Inuit have for snow. Heather The Weather has improved - her early bulletins were like a race commentary delivered under water by Mr Jacques Cousteau - but I still like to have my rainfall confirmed by London.
I have more to say about this, but I must sleep, perchance to dream of Mary Marquis (Ms).