Friday, 20 March 2015

The Asymmetry of Hugh Edwards

It was good to watch last night's 'This Week' since I'd been mildly annoyed at the BBC on Wednesday. Their Budget coverage was in all respects a typical 'Daily Politics' except they'd dropped Andrew Neil in favour of Hugh Edwards and I never really understand the point of Hugh Edwards.

Somebody inside the BBC clearly believes that Hugh is the new David, the old David (or previous Hugh) being David Dimbleby. It's not that I hold any particular grudge against Hugh but he doesn't have that devilish edge which elevates him above the mere average. His chief quality is an asymmetry which he does well but I've never really cared (literally) one way or the other about asymmetry. Nor have I ever been much of a fan of an Elvis lip. Hugh definitely has an Elvis lip, which he usually combines with his asymmetry to produce the Hugh Edwards effect, which makes women swoon and men wish they could swoon.

Perhaps the BBC think Andrew Neil lacks the glamour to front a national event and they replaced him with Hugh in order to satisfy their occasional viewers. News compulsives would be watching irrespective of the host but Hugh Edwards would calm the minds of those who occasionally dip their toes into politics, perhaps to see if a few pence would be knocked off the price of beer. An asymmetrical Elvis lip will always calm that kind of fear.

Hugh is also a safe pair of hands. His hands, I suspect, are as unlike Jeremy Clarkson's hands as you could possibly go without adding extra digits. I also think the BBC like Hugh because he's Welsh. I know that doesn't sound like a reason to hire a man but I suspect the BBC find ways to fulfil their regional quota without going the full dialect. Hugh is a bit Welsh but the kind of Welsh that doesn't have hair on his knuckles or become too impassioned if you speak English west of the Wrexham. The Welsh are a proud and sometimes fierce nation. I don't live all that far from the Welsh border and I know that their language dominates our public transport as far as Manchester (or 'Manceinion' as our local trains announce it) and beyond. Perhaps it's that proud sense of nationhood that the BBC fear. Hugh is Welsh enough to count without disturbing the marmalade brigade in Hertfordshire.

But, I digress. 'This Week' wasn't as feisty as last week's episode but probably a more solid show. The standout performances were by Nihal Arthanayake from the BBC Asian Network and the always wonderful Anne McElvoy. Abbot and Portillo were good but they're always good. I'm never quite sure where Portillo would sit on the Conservative spectrum but I more often than not find myself agreeing with him. Perhaps that's why he's no longer an MP. He's not ideological enough and has broadened his mind to the pleasures of common sense.

As is also usual with 'This Week', I usually zone out during the final ten minutes, which was this week dominated by another comedian with nothing particularly interesting to say and even less to say that was funny. I suspect it's just me but I've had other 'This Week' fans assure me that it's not. They need to think of a new format for the last ten minutes. I might have to give it some thought and summarise it in a letter... Perhaps Andrew Neil should consider more asymmetry and getting himself one of those Elvis lips.


  1. Huw Edwards appeal is hard to pin down, you might be right about the asymmetry and Elvis lip.
    Isn't there a Welsh cabal at the BBC? Alex Jones is Welsh and is John Humphry's not from the land of Owen Glendower also?

  2. Having thought a good deal about it today, I think it's the safe pair of hands. He's never going to drop the ball. At the same time, nothing remarkable will ever happen. He'll never ask a tough question or irritate a politico. He's just remarkably vanilla but with an asymmetry and Elvis lip which distracts from the fact that he's so bland. I really don't know why he's become the face of big occasions. Dimbleby I understood. Not Edwards. And it's a shame since the BBC have some great news readers with real personality yet they always push the best ones into the long grass. Like him or loathe him but Paxman made great TV. I guess that goes back to the Clarkson controversy. I'd really prefer watching presenters who might punch a guest rather than something which I know will remain utterly boring until the end of time itself.

  3. Oh, the Welsh cabal bit... Sorry. Got carried way trying to count the 50 ways that Hugh Edwards is bland. I don't know. I've heard many rumours that the BBC is ruled by one cabal or another that I'm not sure if any of them are real. Unless, of course, there's a cabal of bean counters without a humorous bone in their bodies. That I could believe running the BBC.

  4. It's all about appearing to have an opinion. Hugh reads the news and, like all the most BBCish newsreaders, you would never know what he thought about what he was reading. Neil, on the other hand, reports on politics and lets his opinions swarm all over his face.

  5. Hmm... Interesting distinction that has never struck me. Dimbleby was never, as far as I know, a newsreader, which is possibly why he has character. I used to love election nights with Dimbleby. Edwards never really says anything. He just reports and, because of that, everything just feels so bloody bland.

    I really wish the BBC would see sense of use Neil more on the big occasions such as the upcoming General Election. I know he'll be stuck in some small studio somewhere, or up on a ledge, interviewing party grandees, whilst Hugh Edwards sits downstairs, sneering but really not stirring things up, which is what a host should do. The problem is that the BBC invest such time and energy in those stupid computer graphics that they forget that most viewers prefer a little spontaneous edge provided by the unscripted happenings of fate. Edwards is just too professional to let chaos happen and I really love a bit of chaos.