Two Lords have leapt into senior media jobs in recent weeks: Lord Sugar has replaced Kip Meek as the chairman of YouView and Lord Patten has emerged as the next chair of the BBC Trust.
It was amusing to hear Lord Patten announce he doesn’t watch much TV. Normally, we should be concerned when people attain positions of power over something they don’t understand, but we’re used to posh people under-reporting their TV consumption. “Oh, I watch very little TV. Just Channel 4 News and Newsnight – and an occasional documentary on Discovery. Downton Abbey was marvellous mind you, and I find myself watching the X Factor, The Simpsons and The Inbetweeners because of the kids. Don’t tell anyone but my secret guilty pleasure is America’s Next Top Model.” They then proceed to sing the GoCompare ad and do the Webuyanycar dance.
But the appointment of someone without any great knowledge of TV to the top of the BBC was foreseen long ago by the BBC itself in an episode of ‘Yes, Prime Minister’ (‘The Grand Design’) where a peerage has accidentally been given to the wrong Ron Jones:
Jim Hacker: What are we going to do about Ron Jones’s peerage? Give him one too?
Sir Humphrey: With respect, Prime Minister, we can’t send two Lord Ron Jones to the Upper House. It will look like a job lot.
Jim Hacker: We got to give him something, I promised.
Sir Humphrey: Well, what is he interested in? Does he watch television?
Jim Hacker: He hasn’t even got a set.
Sir Humphrey: Fine, make him a Governor of the BBC.
A remarkably accurate prophesy as it turns out.
How much TV Lord Sugar watches is as yet unknown. My bet is quite a lot, and not just The Apprentice and the football. He comes across as man well attuned to popular culture. His qualifications for his new position seem rather more robust than Lord Patten’s given his technology background. And he will certainly bring YouView media interest which is jolly useful for any brand about to launch.
If either Lord would like an in-depth briefing on what they may or may not be missing in TV we would be happy to oblige. Or they could get a very useful overview here ‘A Year in TV 2010’. Just saying.