I’ve bashed the Beeb a bit in this blogsite. I don’t have a thing against the institution as such but I do notice things about them which irritate me. Out here we no longer have the Sky Italy service so we rely on CNN and the BBC World News service for keeping in touch with events etc. I actually think CNN’s better for reports about the UK funnily enough as much of the BBC WN content is focused on Asia, Africa and the Middle East. There’s always some bloody earnest conference on climate change or whatever being broadcast from Abu Dhabi, which gets repeated 10 times a day on the BBC. And it’s another of these pre-recorded ‘filler’ programmes (they have loads of them) which drives me nuts. Ladies and gentlemen, may I introduce you to HARDtalk – and it’s branded like that deliberately.
This is the BBC’s answer to the Larry King programme on CNN. It’s hosted by some guy called Stephen Sackur who looks like the guy who taught physics at grammar school. He’s supposed to be some hard-as-nails interviewer who asks all the challenging questions, others are afraid to pose. His guests are all fairly interesting or controversial businessmen, politicians, military figures etc. People with an opinion or point of view that’s not universally shared or sometimes something to hide.
Now the other day Stephen traipsed off to Moscow to interview Andrei Lugovoi, the guy who British police are convinced was responsible for (or should I say would very much like him to help them with their enquiries about) the poisoning of fellow Russian Alexander Litvinyenko in London. You may recall old Lugo said ‘Moscow!’ and scarpered back to Russia when the Met police’s trail led to his hotel door. And his old mate Putin wasn’t prepared to see him extradited back to the UK to face any questioning. Not that I’m suggesting that the Russian state had anything to do with the unfortunate death of the Putin regime critic Litvinyenko from poisoning by polonium sourced from the Russian nuclear programme. Oh no.
But here was an interesting programme in the offing – the man who everyone believes almost certainly did it, prepared to answer questions on the record by Sackur the Inquisitor. Now in the circumstances what would be the first question you’d put to old Andrei? Surely it would be ‘Did you do it?’, wouldn’t it? Oh no, not with timid Stephen; he asked ‘how would you describe your relationship with Litvinyenko?’. Ooh that put him on the spot. And it went downhill from there. Of course Lugo got nowhere near to being put on the spot. All he basically said was that the British police are mistaken. HARDtalk my arse.
Now I reckon the BBC should shunt old Sackur off to the Abu Dhabi gigs and install Lyse Doucet as the HARDtalk presenter. Now she is one fearsome lady who’s currently doing all the front-line rep0rts from Gaza. I doubt whether Hamas would mess with her – she makes Larry King look like Larry the lamb. Go google on you tube for her and tell me if I’m wrong.