This Week* remains, for me, the best show on TV. The current brouhaha about Clarkson would pale compared to my reaction should Andrew Neil ever receive the BBC poleaxe. The virtue of the show is that it's rarely about policy. The various issues of political debate are rarely highlighted as much as the debate itself. The show is really about the meat and bones of Westminster: the personalities, the strategic calculations, and the great machinations of state.
The show is at its best, as it was last night, when the nasty underbelly of politics is exposed and tickled. This week, that nastiness arrived in the form of Michael Gove's wife, Sarah Vine, who also happens to be a Daily Mail columnist with a particularly vile line in acid. Both Michael Portillo and Alan Johnson attacked her strongly for the astonishingly vicious piece she recently wrote about Ed Miliband's wife. If anything, their visible anger didn't go far enough but what we had was a riveting exchange and a highlight of my week.
If This Week has a failing, however, it's always the final segment when they try to broaden the appeal of the show by inviting somebody from outside the political sphere to contribute to the debate. It's often some uber hip member of a reality TV show or the saxophonist from a 1970s supergroup who has since moved into organic truffles. Last night it was an astonishingly irritating nineteen year old who swaggered into the studio with an attitude that wouldn't be out of place in a prime ministerial address to the nation. It wasn't just the nascent sideburns struggling to stretch from his ears to somewhere beneath his puppy fat chin. Nor was it the black cravat he was wearing. It was the sheer banality of his views that made me sit up and wonder how the hell Tyger Drew Honey has come to the producer's attention. He proceeded to give the 'yoof' view of social issues and offered such a bland summary of life's problems that it would only endorse a view that people under twenty one don't really know enough about anything to have an 'opinion'. Yet, good guys to the last, both Portillo and Johnson patronised him with their favourable words. He was 'opening their eyes' to issues but, really, had they not been aware of those issues, then you'd question their place on the sofa.
'Tyger' came out with, frankly, feeble nonsense such as 'I know a lot of adults think that kids have the intelligence not to do these things, but I think that's ridiculous because put yourself in the position when you were a teenager, when you knew something was wrong, you'd still try to get away with it'. That wasn't true when I was a teenager and it's no longer true now. Yet, I guess, I can't speak for everybody. He then proceeded with this gem. 'I think we need to think about educating moreso the adults in the above generations as to what precautions you can put in place to actually stop my generation from being able to do certain things, on the internet especially'.
In other words, parents should keep any eye on what their children are doing and watching. Astonishing. Quite the novel idea. Not sure where I've heard it before...
It is only with hindsight that his words become particularly ironic and are the reason I'm writing this now. Wondering who the hell I was watching, I went onto the internet to research 'Tyger Drew Honey' and to understand why the producers of This Week thought his views should matter. I didn't have to look far. Thankfully, Wikipedia has all the answers. It all begins here:
Drew-Honey was born in Epsom, Surrey, the son of pornographic actor and director Simon James Honey and adult actress Linzi Drew.
Following the father's link, takes you to:
Simon James Honey (born 23 May 1956 in Sittingbourne, Kent), better known as Ben Dover, is an English pornographic actor, director and producer
Follow the mother's link, you discover she was:
'a Page 3 girl, stripper, glamour model and porn actress and was at one time the editor of the British edition of Penthouse magazine'.
She was also, incidentally, on the cover of Roger Water's excellent album, 'The Pros and Cons of Hitch Hiking', a cover designed by Gerald Scarfe.
I know the sins of the father aren't those of the son but I find it telling that in the supposedly egalitarian society of modern Britain, it's the son of the man who made 'Ben Dover's British Anal Invasion' (1997) and 'Ben Dover's Soccer Sluts' (2003) who is sitting on TW's sofa telling us that it's the older generation who should be our moral watchdogs. By the looks of things, it's his elders who have largely contributed to the moral degradation of our society, earning a small fortune in the process and funding his education at Epsom College (Patron H.M. The Queen) where fees range from £7,335 to £10,730 a term, a privileged start to life which has now helped launch him into a career in TV punditry.
You couldn't make this stuff up and, as great a show as it is, it makes me wonder what kind of researchers are working on This Week. Andrew Neil, Michael Portillo, and Alan Johnson deserves better because, last night, knowing what I now know, their responses looked mildly ludicrous to a Tyger who did not burn particularly bright.
* That's right. The title of the show is 'This Week'. Anybody who'd call it 'The Week in Politics' clearly doesn't know what they're talking about. However, it's an easy mistake to make. There are so many of them: The Daily Politics, The Sunday Politics, Strictly Come Politics With Andrew Neil. It's easy to get confused...