Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What Exactly Does Phillip Schofield Do?

The only thing worse than struggling to draw a person's likeness is struggling to draw the likeness of a person who you consider embodies the great moronic zeitgeist. Last night it took me many merciless hours to draw Phillip Schofield and even then the result was barely recognisable and left my jaw aching and teeth sore. I was tempted not to post it today but I've set myself a challenge to post a caricature a day for as long as I can last. So there it is, in its lousy glory, sitting at the head of this 900 word rant.

It all began yesterday afternoon with a Twitter message that had made me scream something obscene at my monitor. Twitter has a habit of sending emails which begin 'Do you know...' They rarely list people I actually know. Most of the time they ask things like 'Do you know Barak Obama, Stephen Fry, and The Pope'. Of course I know *of* Barak Obama, Stephen Fry, and The Pope but I don't personally know them. I mean: one of them is the bloody Pope and another is Stephen Fry!

Twitter has this miserable habit of blurring the lines between social media and world news. It wants to connect you to the same circuit as all the important people but that only emphasises how insignificant you truly are. Yet even more annoying than the 'Do you know The Pope' emails are those emails which ask me if I know some toadying little fluffer from the arse end of UK TV. If somebody asked me if I wanted to meet the Pope, I'd obvious say 'yes'. Who wouldn't want to meet the Pope? Asking me to follow the Pope therefore makes some sense. However, that doesn't mean that I'd cross the road to sneeze over Richard P. Bacon's loafers.

Yesterday the email began 'Some people you may know on Twitter' and it listed Phillip Schofield, Jason Bradbury and Keith Chegwin. Now, if I'd held a black mass and some portal to hell had opened up beneath my desk, I couldn't have feared a greater triumvirate of evil popping over from the dark side. I would really struggle to list three people who I'd be less likely to follow. I mean: what exactly do these people do?

One of my biggest irritations in life is cabling. I hate cables. I hate the amount of cables that are behind the TV, running along every wall. I hate network cables, power cables, HDMI cables, optical cables, and every other cable that makes my life a misery. I accept cables are necessary evil for all the technology I enjoy but I don't like them.

And I feel exactly the same way about TV presenters. Presenters are the bits of mumbling flesh who connect more important bits of TV together.

Now, I appreciate that some presenters are better than others like I accept that some cables are quality cables. There are cables which are gold plated, multi-stranded and six meters long. Yet I never make a point of giving a visitor a tour of the house's best bits of cabling. By the same logic, I don't believe that presenters are anything special. I firmly believe that if the BBC scrapped the millions they waste on so called 'celebrity presenters' and paid them normal journalist wages, we wouldn't notice any difference in the quality of the links between items of real importance. It's the same when you go into a specialist electronics shop and see that they want to charge you £40 for a one metre HDMI cable. Because the signal is digital, it won't work any better than the HDMI cable you'd buy for £2 on eBay. Digital means that it either works or it doesn't work. You don't get a slightly better quality of '1's or '0's by buying the more expensive cable.

By the same logic, you don't get better 'in between bits' by paying Claudia Winkleman the £250,000 that the BBC reportedly pay her each year to host Strictly Come Dancing. She doesn't even dance.

I hate to disparage an entire industry of 'professionals' but, on the whole, presenters do nothing. Their only skill is a skill that is innate in all people. It is to possess 'personality'. Of course, some people would argue that these presenters have distinct personalities that make them unique and entertaining. Yet 'personality' is hardly so unique that spewing banalities like a WInkleman should be worth a quarter of a million pounds out of the license fee.

I also accept that some personalities aren't suited to TV. Make me the host of 'This Morning' and I'd alienate the audience inside seconds with my dark humour and uncompromising attitude toward the trivial. There'd be a national scandal within the first fifteen minutes and emergency questions to the Prime Minister within the hour. And I suppose that is what it comes down to. These people are paid so much because they're the blandest among us. Yet that doesn't seem right.

Schofield currently has 3,294,628 followers on Twitter. That's about 3,294,616 more disciples than Jesus. People follow him because he's nothing special. He's just bland, inoffensive, and (importantly) on TV. He now has a separate Twitter account on which he talks about wine and food, which is about as far from his beginnings, sitting with a sodding chipmonk on his shoulder hosting children's programmes on BBC1.

Meanwhile I sit here with a huge chip on my shoulder, waiting for the next message from Twitter. I'm eager to learn what evil I'll be drawing tonight and posting here tomorrow. I'll be happy so long as it isn't Claudia Winkleman...

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