Talking Shite…

Dale’s having another hissy fit – shall we have a look through the round window..?


BBC Bans Emily Maitliss Spectator Column

I’ve never seen Matthew D’Ancona fulminate before, but I suspect he might self combust when he appears on my 18 Doughty Street show tonight at 10pm. Why? Because the BBC have stopped Newsnight presenter Emily Maitliss from writing for The Spectator. Her diary last week provoked the ire of BBC head honcho Helen Boaden, who overrulled Head of News Peter Horrocks and told Maitliss she could in future keep her thoughts to herself. It seems the BBC are still in the post Hutton paranoia era.

Paranoia about what, exactly? (as usual, Iain’s spitting out accusations without citing sources properly and linking to the material he claims to be a bone of contention)

Fortunately, your humble scribe has no such problems, and here (in full) is the diary entry by Maitlis, which Dale claims provoked the ‘ire’ of Helen Boaden…


Emily Maitlis


High tea with George Bush in the Oval Office. Polite but tough questioning on my book. He tells me how much he’s enjoyed reading it. Next stop, the wonderfully counter-counter-cultural bowling alley with Dick Cheney, flanked by Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History. They tell me how much they’ve enjoyed my book.


Croque monsieur for 70 at the Elysée Palace with Nicolas Sarkozy. Nico tells me he’s only just put down my book. I tell him how much I’m enjoying his presidency. We part amicably.


To the Tora Bora caves for mint tea with Bin Laden, author of 9/11, then off kite-flying with his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. They tell me they take issue with my thesis but have greatly enjoyed my book.


I, Emily, awake from terrifying yet exhilarating dream in which I have become Andrew Roberts, the historian. Realise with much sadness that no global leader has ever complimented me on my book. Recall with yet more dismay that I have never actually written one. Put on washing: economy, coloureds, max spin, 60 degrees. Then hastily pick up names dropped carelessly around bedroom in my sleep. Minus a few which I kick under the chair for later use. Piers Morgan has sent me an email advising Beroccas, a pint of milk and a few prayers before we meet for lunch.

Life as a newsreader would not be complete without the wonderful world of award ceremonies. I’m not talking Cannes, Bafta, Venice anything that obvious. No, I mean the Oscars of the Heating and Ventilation World, the Pride of Plumbing, the Celebration of Steel. Believe me, the list goes on. Protocol dictates that you host the awards with a friendly hello and brief introduction. But sometimes your mind goes blank. I have just hours to go and nothing to kick off the evening. In panic I call up Andrea Catherwood and Katie Derham and seek help. The TV girls are united. You need autocue mishaps, they say. And shower me with their cast-offs. ‘Have you done the one where you say, “That’s all from the one o’clock news, I’ll be back with the main news just before sex”?’ Katie asks. ‘What about, “And now for the weather, frequent rain and a lot more drivel to come”?’ Andrea offers up. Ah, to have such friends. We have shared on-air maternity wear, baby clothes, career highs and lows. But to lend another your own cock-ups? Greater love hath no man.

Excited call from the Newsnight producer. I have made it, she informs me, on to The Noticeboard. Oh hallowed wall. This is where all our press mentions, our newspaper clippings are proudly displayed. The investigative reporting that has helped fell governments; the devastating discoveries, the piercing interviews. Was my recent forensic questioning of Hamas picked up by the Independent? Could the New Statesman have warmed to my discussion of motoring and embarked on a three-part series in my name? My reverie is quickly shattered when Lucy tells me. ‘You’re in heat magazine. As Parky’s pin-up. I stuck it on the board anyway.’ I am flattered. (Michael, truly I am.) But why oh why couldn’t it have been for the London Review of Books?

Milo, aged two, has developed a fixation with Spartacus, introduced to him by his nanny. I’m delighted, in a pushy Notting Hill-mother way, although struggling to recall who Spartacus was. Mark, his father, is not impressed. Spartacus, he reminds me, was the Roman initiator of the Slaves’ Revolt, fomenter of the Uprising. But he is possibly reading more into the situation than it warrants when he tells me he believes this is our long-suffering nanny’s way of asking for a pay rise and that she is about to leave us. I begin a frenzied scouring of our Greco-Roman glossary in panic. But the situation miraculously resolves itself. Spartacus, it turns out, is actually a cartoon superhero called Sportacus who Saves the Planet. His best friend is Stephanie. She has Barbie-pink hair and Barbie-pink shoes and the kind of dress that makes Zandra Rhodes look like a home secretary. On Thursday Milo announces he no longer dreams of being Spart/Sportacus. He wants to be Stephanie instead. Mark, his father, is not impressed.

I am presenting News 24 from outside Parliament as Tony Blair quits the stage and Gordon Brown shuffles in. It is momentous, it is emotional, but more than anything, it is wet. It reminds me of a day, exactly ten years ago, when I witnessed and reported on another handover of power — as Hong Kong was returned to China. Then, as now, the driving rain seemed to compound the very Britishness of the occasion. We never knew if Chris Patten was crying, or if a carefully positioned raindrop merely lent the shot more poignancy. At home, Milo is watching. ‘Why is Teddy Bear leaving?’ He asks Mark. ‘Mummy just said Teddy Bear was leaving Sedgefield.’ Why he gets the name of a remote Durham constituency right I will never fully understand.

And so, finally, to a charity do for Breast Cancer Haven that I am hosting with Rory Bremner. During drinks beforehand I spy Andrew Roberts. I blush and tell him how much I am enjoying his book.

Emily Maitlis is a BBC newsreader and a contributing editor of The Spectator.

You know, I read it two or three times and about the only faintly objectionable thing I can see in it is that its shite…

No, to be fair, I can see that Bin Laden gag at the top (and if any of Dale’s regulars are looking in, there is no book, just so know) might not go down a storm in some quarters – unfortunately for Dale those quarters would consist entirely of the same people who’re likely to be feverish scribbling green ink notes of complaint to the Beeb having been entirely taken in by Dale’s histronics.

But the article is still shite.

For fucks sake, so he’s got Matthew D’Ancona on the couch at Fox News Lite tonight (ooh no missus, don’t), he could just fucking say so without trying on such a desperate and blatantly obvious shill for viewers – is that stat porn really that bad at 18DS?

Did I mention that Maitlis’s diary column is shite?

But it is still one rule for some and a different rule for others. Why is Andrew Marr’s diary in the Telegraph more acceptable than an Emily Maitliss column in The Speccie?

Let me take a few wild guesses…

1. Andy Marr doesn’t do straight news broadcasting/presenting on a BBC contract these days (he’s a freelancer) – unlike Maitlis – so he creates no significant credibility issues for the Beeb if his Torygraph column’s a bit on the shite side. Maitlis’s column is, on the other hand, shite.

2. Andy Marr’s column – so far as one can tell from his latest missive – is played out pretty straight but with a somewhat conversational tone. Maitlis appears to channelling the bastard offspring of Billy Liar and the 3AM girls while writing her column – which is shite.

3. Marr doesn’t seem intent on making a complete arse of himself. Maitlis is doing little else but make an arse of herself by writing shite…

Oh, and her column… it’s shite, you know… especially the Spartacus/Sportacus ‘gag’ which is a pretty fucking weak method of admitting you watch Nick Jr while desperately to pretend you’re an intellectual.

I am so very glad I don’t have to watch what I say like everyone at the BBC seems to have to.

It doesn’t seem to me that the Beeb’s problem with Maitlis comes down to them expecting her watch what she says so much as the Beeb maybe worrying that any credibility she might have as a news presenter is going to disappear rapidly down the shitter if she keeps on knocking out great steaming piles of vacuous shite like that last diary column.

Look I’m not kidding – read it again… it’s shite.

But then that’s not really the kind of angle that speaks well of Matty D’Ancona’s stewardship of the Speccie – ‘Beeb pulls newsreader out of Spectator because her column is shite’ ain’t really the kind of headline that’s going to bump up the stat porn at 18DS much, which seems to be quite the most plausible explanation of Dale’s efforts to cry wolf.

It does seem off that Boaden should intervene to overrule Horrocks. He will not have been pleased. Ever ready with a quotable phrase, D’Ancona has called it the Vicky Pollard School of Managenment – yes but, no but.

Fuck me – we live in a country where you can’t shift for spotty faced youths imitating characters from Little fucking Britain and yet Dale still manages an effort that’s much more Stephen Pollard than Vicky Pollard.

So far as I can see, if takes the Vicky Pollard school of management to spare the Speccies reader the mind-numbing experience of Maitlis’s Jade Goody school of Dairy Journalism then that seems a pretty fair exchange in my book.

That said, it might be worth tuning in tonight to see D’Ancona fulminate, if only to see if anyone asks him the sixty four thousand dollar question…

Matthew. This column by Emily Maitlis… you actually paid her to write that shite?

Oh, btw – the image at the top is courtesy of Tim Ireland – so no nicking it without his permission…

14 thoughts on “Talking Shite…

  1. I’ve said it before and I will say it again. You really do need to get out more, mate. Why is what I write such an endless source of fascination to you? Do you really think your readers are at all interested? Judging by the total absence of comments in four hours this indicates either

    a) none of your readers gives a toss
    b) you have no readers

  2. Unity is trying to get you readers, Iain- because reading the shite on your site, you need all the help you can get.

  3. As a reader, I can say I do care. For several reasons, really. After due consideration, though, the biggest one is probably how much I like seeing smug twonks made to look stupid.

  4. Damn it, Iain… you should have said that about 1234gate. What a withering rebuttal!

    PS – My cock is bigger than your cock and no-one is interested in your cock.

  5. ‘Do you really think your readers are at all interested?’

    err yes,very much so.

    ‘LOL – at 10,000 uniques a day I am quite happy with my readership levels’

    I’m sure the Daily Sport gets more clicks than The Guardian…

  6. All of which is rendered irrelevant because what the BBC actually did was rule it impermissible for Maitlis to take on a role as Contributing Editor of the Speccie (after originally OKing it). Once this had been announced in the magazine the BBC retracted their permission.

    She is, however, still allowed to write for and contribute to the magazine, just not take on an executive position. So regardless of whether her diary was shite, that’s not what the BBC have prevented her doing. What d’Ancona is hacked off by is the inconsistency of the BBC in granting permission for her to take on the job, and then withdrawing that permission once the announcement had been made in print. They have now apologised.

  7. So all the Beeb have actually done is quibble over Maitlis’ byline?

    From what I’m given to understand is standard practice in magazine publishing, ‘contributing editor’ is no more than an honorary title given to freelancers who write regularly for a magazine and are considered to have a good readership draw or some name recognition value. They do not actually editorial work nor take on any executive duties.

    Given that Maitlis appears to be be no great shakes as a writer, if that last column is anything to go by, it seems likely that her main value to the Speccie rests entirely in the bit of name recognition that comes with her day job at the Beeb and its that the Beeb have objected to.

    Hardly earth shattering stuff and nothing like Dale’s initial ‘look! look! I told you the Beeb hates Tories’ line.

  8. Who me..?

    Now why would I suggest something like that?

    Mind you, if he’d have promised that D’Ancona was actually going to spontaneously self combust on air, then even I might have tuned in to watch that.

  9. That’s the posish – have a look here:

    “The position seems to be that Emily can write for the magazine but not hold a title. The Corporation has now apologised officially and privately to The Spectator, and quite right, too. Some have suggested to me that the U-turn reflected internal hostility at the BBC to a right-of-centre publication: they scent an anti-Tory conspiracy. I wish it were that organised.”

    I think what annoyed d’Ancona was the ‘look who we’ve got – oh wait a sec’ aspect of it. As you say though, I can’t think she was hired for the blistering quality of her writing…

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