I regret I have to inform you of a malaise increasingly taking a grip in Radio 4. This is goslingitis. In this incurable affliction, broadcasters turn into parodies of themselves. It is a shocking and distressing condition, causing listeners in their droves to switch off rather than endure the embarrassment of hearing the sufferer struggle through their script.
Named for Ray Gosling, one of the most seriously afflicted broadcasters ever, it does of course predate him: Marghanita Laski being an early sufferer.
In the current day, AL Kennedy’s performance on A point of view is a tragic, and possibly incurable, case. And Eddie Mair, although at an earlier stage of the affliction, shows serious signs. His case is interesting because a component of Mair’s style is extreme seriousness, on occasion, which at first sight appears to be straight down the line but has actually become a caricature of righteousness. Other unfortunate sufferers include Kirsty Young, on Desert island discs.
The point of this blog is to warn those whom close attention shows may be in the early stages of the affliction of the danger that they are in. The likes of Evan Davis, Jeremy Hardy and Paul Gambaccini all need to be on their guard.
Studies have shown this condition affects males rather more frequently than females, but Sandi Toksvig’s nick-of-time departure from The news quiz has probably saved her, and millions of listeners, from years of torment.
Of course, most politicians are sufferers to a greater or lesser extent but it would appear to be the case that inauthenticity and falseness are prerequisites of their jobs. In any case, becoming parodies of themselves should be the least of their worries.
A side syndrome is the excruciatingly false ‘banter’ that permeates iPM and More or less on occasions. Happily, this syndrome is more amenable to treatment, given that the presenters seem to be relatively unscathed (Mair aside) otherwise. Scientists have found that the most successful remedy in this situation is for the perpetrators simply to… stop it. Now, please.
Of course, there are plenty of broadcasters who seem to be immune to the –itis: Melvyn Bragg, Tom Sutcliffe, Jenni Murray and Martha Kearney are just four who seem to be blessedly untouched (so far). I believe scientists are currently attempting to establish if these individuals possess a particular gene which confers immunity.
© 2015 Jeremy Marchant Limited . image: Free images