Tuesday, June 19, 2007

TV gives us the press we deserve

Bill Hagerty let his nostalgia run wild with his Inside Story spread in the Independent, recalling six of the best TV media dramas, from Compact (which my mum watched) to Ugly Betty (which my kids watch).

I'd have been peeved if he hadn't included Lou Grant, the news editor I wanted to work for when I was a junior reporter covering Bodmin magistrates and dreaming of covering LA City Hall.

Actually, I secretly modelled myself on Joe Rossi, the Tribune's own Carl Bernstein who drank gallons of coffee, had more snouts than a bacon factory and exposed the crap out of mobsters and politicians on a golfball typewriter.

Hagerty also mentions Drop the Dead Donkey, Hot Metal, and State of Play. But he's left the best ones out, so for the record, there's:

1. Mitch, a grizzled Fleet Street hack played by a post-Sweeney John Thaw in the early eighties. He wore a raincoat, moaned about the world, looked divorced and was convinced life was a cover-up.

Best moment: risking his life to bag a world exclusive and retiring to the Pen and Wallet to be told: 'the printers have walked out again.'

2. Lytton's Diary with sitcom smoothie Peter Bowles; all g and t and cravats and set in the world of the gossip columnist.

Best moment; when it was revealed that behind all the schmoozing was his desire to write a book and that no-one would touch it.

3. Hold The Back Page, which followed sport's Poet laureat, Ken Wordsworth as he left a posh broadsheet to slug it out on a tabloid, pitting himself against a gobshite upstart called Steve Stevens waving a big chequebook and a bigger ego.

It was all about excess. Everyone earned buckets, filed copy from El Vinos and stitched each other up. The opening scene even saw Wordsworth take a 20-yard taxi ride to cross the road to his new job.

It was on during the red top heyday when Kelvin McKenzie's Sun was still rising and no-one questioned expenses.

Best moment; when his paper wanted to sponsor a teenage tennis star they hoped would become Britain's first black 1imbledon winner. They asked their best headline writer to come up with a name that evoked British and winning. He came up with Winston Bingo. When it wasn't erhnic enough, he said Winston Umbingo.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And surely Edward Woodward in 1990 as journo Jim Kyle fighting battling a New Labourish regime that's suspended elections...