TV Appearance Of The Week
April 26, 2015
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I fielded a call from a subsidiary of the BBC the other week. At last, I thought, recognition of the mordancy of my observations and the acuity of my wit and, doubtless, an offer to be the new Jeremy Clarkson. Not a bit of it – the offer was to reprise the role of Norman Muller in Isaac Asimov’s 1957 short story, Franchise, and represent the Great British Public in a CNN International Election Debate. I accepted, nonetheless.
At least it gave me the opportunity to visit the Thought Leadership Centre in the Maclaren’s Technology Centre just outside Woking – a rather austere, white-walled, multi-million pound all-singing all-dancing conference facility dripping in state-of-the art technology – the ideal location, I mused, to consider austerity Britain. Indeed, the audience’s response to the question whether we felt better off today may well have elicited a different response from a crowd seated in a draughty hall in Skelmersdale.
The interaction of the audience, carefully selected by the diligent use of profiling techniques but one from a quick scan which looked to be firmly in the mature, affluent, WASP camp, was limited to responding – by tablet (natch) – to a few anodyne questions by pressing an emoticon reflecting our mood. (Before we know it emoticons will be the new form of hieroglyphs).
The panel, of whom only three were standing in the election and one of those as a SNP candidate in a foreign country, were plucked from the D list of party spokespeople and only the rather bumptious and over-bearing Chris Bryant seemed capable of forming and expressing a series of logical thoughts. The Ukipper confirmed the view that cogent argumentation and party policy were two irreconcilable concepts.
The recording was rather stochastic as the “debate” was halted every now and then to allow for commercial breaks, but Christiane Amanpour kept it together effortlessly – you would have thought she did this for a living – and I just about managed to escape the ever-circling arms of Morpheus.
The show went out on Friday and is now condemned to an endless cycle of repeats. Still, it was my big break into the world of TV and I have played my small part in educating the world about the issues impacting the Brits and giving some poor sap stuck in a hotel room in Tashkent a nano-second of entertainment.