Sunday, November 20, 2005

The Late Mr John Timpson Was A Gentleman Of The Radio, Who Never Presented Today Whilst Dressed As A Swiss Pirate

The death on Saturday of the former Today presenter, Mr John Timpson, was greeted with a suitably affectionate profile on the BBC news. The report concluded with the observation that Mr Timpson, a journalist who preferred tweed, was "probably the last journalist you could imagine reading the news in a dinner jacket".
Obviously, it is a source of regret that the Corporation's hacks no longer dress properly, but what seems incontrovertible is that the gentleman broadcaster is almost extinct. There are isolated survivors - Mr Timpson's former colleague, Mr Robert Robinson on Brain of Britain - but, in general, broadcasting has abandoned the civilising strictures of that great son of Stonehaven, the late Baron Reith, in favour of the brusque idiocy of demotic speech. At times, listening to Radio Four is like eavesdropping at an audition for Billy Liar, or standing at the bus stop, waiting for a bus that never arrives.
Mr Timpson's successors are not really dinner jacket men. I have difficulty imagining Mr John Humphrys in anything other than a quilted gilet, moleskin plus-twos, and green wellington boots. In my mind's eye, I see Mr James Naughtie in rough tartan trews, a pirate's blouse, and a tyrolean hat made of mustard-coloured felt. I trust he will never pursue a career in television and spoil the illusion.

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