Sunday, June 17, 2007

How to Appear on Television

People hate me so I'm pretty sure I shall never be asked to take part in either Radio 4's Any Questions? or BBC One's Question Time. Nevertheless, while listening with mounting distaste to Roy Hattersley on the last Any Questions, I evolved a strategy in case, through some clerical error or momentary lapse of attention on my part, I ever find myself on either of these shows. Hattersley is the supreme politician in that he has no grasp of or concern for reality whatsoever. Confronted by an audience, he simply mouths crowd-pleasing platitudes. He is perfect for these shows because both have evolved into a mindless competition between the panellists to milk the most applause from the audience. 'We must do something about Palestine!' Applause. 'We are all guilty!' Applause, 'But especially the Americans!' Applause. Ecstasy. 'Peace and love. People should be nice!' Yeah! My strategy, therefore, is obvious. I would try to get through the whole programme without provoking any applause whatsoever. 'The Palestinian problem is utterly intractable.' Silence. 'Your guilt is of as much use and of as much interest as a speck of dust on the nose of a rat that died several hundred years ago in Croydon.' Deathly hush, one cough. 'The other panellists are just trying to make you clap.' Silence interrupted by nervous shuffling. 'Every opinion you ever held is wrong.' Silence interrupted by weeping.


  1. Superb. I look forward eagerly to your appearance, ideally on Any Questions? where the silences and weeping will have more impact.

  2. 'People hate me...'

    To which the audience responds: 'No, we don't hate you, Bryan. We love you.' And we break out into a spontaneous round of applause.

    See, you'd be perfect for Question Time.

  3. And I sob uncontrollably. Perfect, Chip.

  4. River of DeceitJune 17, 2007 11:54 am

    Question Time have the most boring guests sometimes. Unknown actors and TV stars i've never heard of telling me how concernned they are. They even had Heather Mills on- she was amazingly vaccuous yet the audience still clapped.

  5. Well I hope you make it - it would make listening in the car much more pleasurable - they never get the sound balance between panellists and applause right so I oscillate between being deafened and not being able to hear what the pundits are saying. I usually go for the latter ...

  6. Isn't he the one who splutters over everyone?

  7. Being hated is an asset for garnering air time. Look at Ann Coulter and Christopher Hitchens.

    There must be some other reason you aren't invited. Are you sleeping with the right people?

  8. You could leave the stage with the parting clincher- "I need to take a shit."
    And with that elevating thought I draw attention to the ill-advised decision to have begun my own blog which, as a connection beyond self-advertisement, does relate to this line somewhat:
    "Hattersley is the supreme politician in that he has no grasp of or concern for reality whatsoever"

  9. I suspect Bryan might find appearing on Question Time a cure for his insomnia and would soon be quite unable to stop himself from appearing on it as often as possible. The hospitality suite would probably need to stock up on steel-cut oats so that Bryan could fortify himself properly before each appearance. Who likes sleeping on an empty stomach?

    Has any member of the panel actually fallen asleep during the programme? There's always room for a first, and the sound of gentle slumber would be a wonderful counterpoint to the pompous nonsense that those on the panel usually spout.

  10. Susan, cleft-admirer,June 17, 2007 9:40 pm

    Who could hate a man with such a noble (Nobel?) chin?

  11. Andrew, I'm afraid Kimi Raikkonen has already used a similar line on live TV. On the pre-race grid walkabout prior to last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, Martin Brundle strode up to Kimi, and asked him whether he'd attended the ceremony a few minutes previously to wish Michael Schumacher bon voyage on his retirement.

    "No, I've just been for a shit," replied Kimi.

  12. 'Every opinion you ever held is wrong.' Silence interrupted by weeping.

    Are you sure about that weeping? Not boos and catcalls? Whatever the case, I can imagine the reaction would go on for days, with editorials damning you, government ministers denouncing you, bureaucrats sent trotting out with statistics to prove that not every opinion ever held is wrong, only 78% of them, and endless programs dissecting the meaning of "wrong" and "opinion."

    Naturally, all of this would generate huge ratings for the broadcasters, and you would be invited here, there, and everywhere to amplify on your comments. No doubt, a hefty sum will eventually be offered if you agree to insult (speak truth to) audiences on a regular basis.

    Think of it, Bryan! A whole new career and a whole new genre!

  13. Great plan, Bryan. Or you could go tongue-in-cheek and win the audience over with the most vacuous ideas imaginable. For example, on Palestine: "The recent Spice Girls reunion teaches us all an important lesson in reconciliation. If Geri, Sporty and the rest can overcome their artistic differences, why can't Hamas and Fatah?" (For extra applause, add one of the following: "Politicians, pah!", "Men, pah!". Whatever you do, don't say "Muslims, pah!"). On Third World starvation: "We should send some of our celebrity chefs in. Gordon and Jamie are experts at rustling up a tasty meal on a tight budget." It won't cure famine, but I guarantee it will have the QT audience eating out of the palm of your hand.

    A bit of poetry of some relevance:

    My father upon the Abbey stage, before him a raging crowd:
    'The Land of Saints' and then as the applause died out,
    'Of plaster saints'; his beautiful mischievous head thrown back...

    (Yeats: "Beautiful Lofty Things)

  14. Well that marks Raikkonen out as a legend, Gordon. Bryan could of course leave with the parting shot, "To paraphrase the legend Kimi Raikkonen, I need to go for a shit."

  15. When Raikkonen said he was having a shit, Martin Brundle responded with 'at least you'll have a nice light car on the grid'