Monday, 11 October 2010
Parky sticks it to Richard Bacon
It should, of course, come as no surprise that Sir Michael Parkinson swept the floor with useless Radio 5 host Richard Bacon this afternoon, but it was a masterclass in contempt which deserves to be heard again and again. (Listen again is available here for then next 7 days.)
As a magazine slot interviewer Bacon is truly terrible. Last week the Nobel Prize for Physics was won by two scientists who invented the two-dimensional material graphene. Nothing so exemplifies Richard Bacon so much as that material. He never seems to get more than a single molecule of depth from his interviewees and his dictionary of banalities is limitless.
As a sort of parody, the HELP! slot that he runs once a week might even be quite funny. But apparently it's mean to to be taken seriously and thus he is turning himself into a caricature of Alan Partridge. But without the self-awareness.
Today Bacon got his comeuppance when he interviewed Sir Michael Parkinson. Parky isn't my favourite chat show host in the world - his adoration of Billy Connolly is a little OTT - but he has forgotten more about the skill of interviewing than Bacon will ever know.
Somehow, the pair got into an argument about the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross incident. Bacon managed to get himself into a position where he was trying to defend Brand's actions without ever saying so. He was stuck between two stools of siding with what he knew was right and trying to retain his self-opinion as an edgy and 'dahn with the kids' interviewer. He manages to get his age into his programme more often than Nick Clegg mentions Sheffield - and that is saying something. The contempt with which Parky treated him was a delight.
After one break for travel, Bacon announced to a completely disbelieving audience that he was enjoying the interview. I would guess about as much as a prostate exam. Parky's response ('So am I') was as cruel as it was funny.
After that there was nowhere for Bacon to go, so he just kept digging. Spying an apparent gap in the Parky CV he asked whether he was in a bit of a rough patch after 1982 when his show finished on BBC1. "No, I was busy launching TV-AM," replied Parky with the tone of a schoolmaster scolding a pupil for not doing their homework - which is apt.
So was it just Parky that put him off his stride? Apparently not. Later in the programme, Bacon discussed the state of British comedy following the Quentin Letts article bemoaning the modern TV comedians. Also appearing was the former producer of Last of the Summer Wine who said that the casual racism of 1970s comedy was fine because the shows were funny. There was an open goal for Bacon to regain his standing and self-worth, but he fluffed it. Where Parky would have laid bare the outrageous nature of the statement, Bacon fluffed it, mouthing protests but to no effect.
Richard Bacon's predecessor, Simon Mayo, graduated to Radio 2. I suspect that Bacon would be more suited to holiday cover for Channel Five.