Wednesday, January 09, 2008

In Praise of Simon Mayo


This is Radio 5 Live's Simon Mayo. He is about do a trial stint on BBC TV's Breakfast programme. However, he nearly didn't get the gig as a senior BBC honcho thought he was "too ugly". Christ knows where that leaves the likes of me, then! But it illustrates the mindset of TV executives who believe that unless you have the body beautiful and are preferably under 35, you won't get on screen.
Simon Mayo has proved to be a huge asset to 5 Live. His thoughtful and conversational interviewing style has made him the station's star interviewer. He's as comfortable interviewing Ozzy Osborne as he is speaking to David Cameron. His broadcasts from New Hampshire this week have been nothing less than riveting, providing the best coverage on the radio of the primary. From a selfish point of view I hope he won't be lost to 5 Live, but I suspect he will be an outstanding success on Breakfast TV.

42 comments:

verity said...

I hadn't seen him before, but from the photo, he seems to have a nice face that people could relate to.

God, I hate the BBC. Ideally, I would like to see the BBC and the UN razed to the ground on the same day. I can't think of anything that would give a greater lift to the spirit.

Anonymous said...

Simon's lovely!

Johnny Norfolk said...

Is he a leftie /.

If he is not he has got no chance at the BBC.

I hate the BBC more than Verity.

verity said...

Johnny Norfolk - Well, that's a relief.

Troll Patrol said...

Both of you get a big "whoof!" from moi. Not sure why the beeb teev people have a problem. Adrien Chiles and Judy Faghagadden both float my canoe despite being consistently put down lookswise. I myself have been described as having a mug like a dissected octopus. People can be so cruel.

Anonymous said...

Simon Mayo has been good and the best of the daytime lot. But if you want the best then you need to listen to Rhod Sharp on Up All Night. He is much better informed and has a sophisticated understanding of the US but can still communicate successfully with a US illiterate listener.

Troll Patrol said...

Verity, Johnny Norfolk, if you hate the BBC so much can you give an example of a national broadcaster elsewhere that manages to deliver such consistently impartial programming for such good value to the taxpayer???

BeadieJay said...

Yum ;) Must set the alarm so I can start watching Breakfast TV!

mitch said...

I've always thought he was a bit of a nob-head.

Unlike other contributors I don't 'hate' anything, although I can manage 'strong dislike'. Maybe I get more sex.

GSK said...

Why should n'ot be good looking' be a block to being on screen but being as obviously stupid as this TV Exec is not be a bar to working behind the scenes?

Anonymous said...

Strange, I always thought of Simon Mayo came across as a NuLabour twat. A listenable NuLabour twat, but a NuLabour twat nonetheless.

bj said...

Not surprised by the same tired old nonsense from Vezzer and Vr Norfolk.

Simon Mayo's ace. Far too cerebral, in my opinion, to present BBC Breakfast. But it has just got a new editor, so maybe she's taking it upmarket. Hurray. Along with Jane Garvey, Simon's the second big Five Live name to start work on other projects. And all this with no controller in charge.

I predict ructions at your favourite radio station, Iain...

John M Ward said...

Johnny Norfolk wrote: "I hate the BBC more than Verity."

Well, I don't hate Verity at all -- so there! :-)

I think the biggest complaint about the BBC's coverage of the US Primaries wasn't really Simon Mayo (though his part in this has been criticised elsewhere, I notice) but the sheer number of "freeloaders" who have gone out there to cover this event.

Bearing in mind that it is only the Primaries stage, and that other UK news agencies have not felt the need to send out hordes of reporters and technical/support staff, this does give a strong impression of public (licence fee) money being spent very lavishly by the BBC.

Many would see this as an inappropriate level of expenditure, and it is interesting that only the undisciplined nature of a public sector broadcasting body resulted in such extravagance.

It is at times like this that the BBC is its own worst enemy, and the only possible outcome will be an increase in the wave of opinion that it needs to be radically changed in nature, including possible breaking-up and privatisation. If that isn't their wish, then they really need to change their ways -- drastically and permanently. It's really in their hands, more than anyone else's.

Anonymous said...

Why do you love the BBC so much Iain?

They're never going to have you on Question Time...

The Prof said...

Hi Iain!

Just be grateful that SKy don't have those standards,or we'd be deprived of you there as well

Jeanette McDonald said...

Simon Mayo presented a BBC show with Sarah Greene years ago but that was when people were judged on their ability as a presenter and worthy journalist.
He was also Smiley Miley on Radio 1

Anonymous said...

I have been listening to him all afternoon (should be working, hence anon post!) and his coverage of the NH Primary has been the best political analysis programme on radio or TV I've heard for a VERY long time. I find FiveLive much too voxpop-ish but agree that he will be a big loss to the station. I remember when he was a rather dull Radio One DJ, what a pity that his contemporary from that station, Nicky Campbell has none of Simon's intelligence or likeability.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Johnny, your last sentence is a little ambiguous... :P

Anyway, having read Guido's post on the BBC, I thought your post's heading was being sarcastic, although it seems you really are praising Simon Mayo. Ho-hum.

white hart said...

Iain,

Would you have given him such a glowing report if you had read his Wikipedia entry and seen that he supports Spurs?

Anonymous said...

Blokes don't know the half of it. Can you imagine anyone as old and ugly as Huw Edwards fronting the 10 o clock news if they were female?

Anonymous said...

Oh for gawd's sake... too ugly?? Does the BBC think its audience is as trivial as its managers?? This makes me seriously angry. I don't pay my licence fee to look at botoxed faces, I expect good content & analysis and I couldn't give a stuff about the face. Actually he looks perfectly normal & nice to me, but then I'm not impressed by the likes of David Beckam and his bulging assets.

And while I'm spouting off, how is it allowed that Gordon Brown gets away with telling outright LIES at PMQs? David Cameron was never senior/chief economic adviser to Norman Lamont, as probably all readers of this blog know. And how is it allowed that Gordon Brown hammers Cameron with a question about ID cards for foreign visitors, which he had ALREADY answered, and the Speaker does not intervene? It is, after all, PMQs, not Oppostion Questions.

They say that stress was never so prevalant as it is now. I am not at all surprised. Every day, I read the news and my blood pressure goes off the scale with the way govt ministers, and PM, evade questions and then lie, and lie, and lie again. I had a lot of respect for a lot of Old Labour characters... didn't agree with them, but they weren't dishonourable.

This lot is utterly beneath contempt. It really hurts to find my country being destroyed by them and to find it a laughing stock on the world stage.

Philipa said...

Well the Torys chose the pretty boy as leader - go figure!

the dĂșnadan said...

I hope he doesn't leave Radio 5 Live - his interviews with Mark Kermode are great to listen to.

Anonymous said...

>Christ knows where that leaves the likes of me, then!

On the radio?

judith said...

Do you suppose that BBC exec resisted the temptation to yell "hold the mayo!"?

Norfolk Blogger said...

I always thought Simon Mayo was a Tory anyway. He always seems to give them an easier ride, but he is actually rather good.

Andrew Jones said...

Iain - I am a regular reader of your blog. Please don't include offensive language in your posts. It adds nothing to the usually excellent and engaging material.

Anonymous said...

I tend to agree with Guido about the number of Beeb people in the US for only the primaries. Are they all going to stay until Super Tuesday (1 month) or right until the conventions?

On TV I noticed that last night it was a BBC America production broadcast for America. They might be trying to up their profile in the US and therefore make a bit of money for the BBC/license payer.

Minnie the Moocher said...

I agree Iain. Simon Mayo is a very good, well-informed, intelligent interviewer and he can turn his hand to anything - astrophysics, engineering, architecture, chemistry - and make it interesting to the lay listener. He's likeable and interviewees clearly enjoy talking to him.
And he's attractive.
If looks are now a BBC criteria I think we can say goodbye to Michael Crick, Jon Sopel, the woman who looks like a Dollard and Acheson advert, Alan Yentob and reruns of the Muppets

verity said...

Troll Patrol writes: "can you give an example of a national broadcaster elsewhere that manages to deliver such consistently impartial programming for such good value to the taxpayer???"

The BBC is funded by a licence fee, not a tax. It's funded by extortion.

The BBC isn't impartial. It is unrelentingly hard left.

The only other national broadcaster funded by extortion with which I am familiar is French TV, which is bone-chillingly awful, but free market TV is best.

The BBC has a political agenda which goes against the interests of the British people and Britain itself.

bj said...

John M Ward -- why the hell would anyone want to "freeload" in Des Moines, where last time I checked it was 2 degrees Fahrenheit?

The reason the BBC sends so many staff is that in a typical day they have to service:

Four terrestrial TV news programmes (The TV 1, 6 and 10, and Newsnight)

Two 24-hour news channels (News 24 and BBC World)

Six domestic radio news programmes (on Radios 1 and 4)

1 rolling radio news channel (5 Live)

Several (ie more than five) programmes on World Service radio

Forty local radio stations

Not to mention one of the world's most popular news websites.

And they have to fill it all with reporting, analysis, and colourful stuff to make it interesting to the licence-payers who aren't so bothered by US politics.

For less than the cost of a Daily Mail every day I find that a reasonable deal, especially when you consider that you get Top Gear and I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue and Life On Mars as well.

curly15 said...

I enjoy listening to Mayo, I guess Breakfast Time will be a little step up from his last appearances on TOTP?

Jeremy Jacobs said...

Iain

I'm sure there's hope for us all somewhere!

Desperate Dan said...

Its BBC Human Resource staff who should be culled. They've got the pick of the country's creme de la creme and all they ever choose, with very few exceptions, are the dull and dislikeable. Whoever made the decision to send Simon Mayo to the twilight world of Breakfast tv to live among the drongoes has not got the best interests of the BBC at heart.

Troll Patrol said...

Verity wrote:
"The BBC is funded by a licence fee, not a tax. It's funded by extortion. The BBC isn't impartial. It is unrelentingly hard left."

What I wrote was meant to be funny, whatever.

actually I agree - the massive piece of tosh "Capturing Mary" over the holidays. It's hard to believe we pay for rubbish like this. Who produces it and and who is responsible for it getting on the BBC?

I defy anyone on this blog who can tell that there was anything about this rubbish that was worthwhile (except D. Maggie Smith who could act a turd into a academy award)

Charlotte Corday said...

Simon Mayo has a History and Politics degree from Warwick University. He attended the same University as David Davis (and me).

Ewen Bruce said...

If Mayo wans to be taken seriously, the sooner he escapes from that pile of tabloid-radio pap that 5-Lite has become the better. I can't believe anyone takes 5's journalism seriously. Shallow, repetitive and banal. Its slowly becoming The Sun on the radio. How Peter Allen has managed to stick it this long I'll never know.

Anonymous said...

and on radio 4 Simon Hefferlump has just come up to talk about - god some rubbish - I'm off to M&S - anything but him....

freedom to prosper said...

Carpet bombing the BBC, the UN, Brussels, council estates, travellers' sites etc may sound attractive but do we have the planes?
I think Simon is very good and I love listening to him. Why does he get so much stick?

troymolloy said...

Well he's certainly a lot less ugly than he was 20 years ago. And a good bloke. I loathe BBC Breakfast though; completely unwatchable in its current format IMHO (mainly because it seems to be a load of adverts cobbled together). Maybe Mr Mayo can give it a bit of a lift though?

Alfie said...

Mayo is one of the few good men on the BBC at the moment. When he was interviewing that snake James Purnell on his afternoon show, he very kindly read out my email in full (including my description of being a disenfranchised Englishman) as to why we English are denied our own national anthem. And when Purnell started to wriggle,Mayo nailed him.

He's a politics graduate from Warwick University - so although his first job was DeeJaying, his first love is the turbulent sea of public life.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy Mayo's afternoon programme. Does his move to breakfast TV mean that he'll be leaving Radio 5? If so, that's very bad news - hell will freeze over before I watch TV in the morning. I can imagine, though, that those who do are more concerned about good hair and high cheek bones than anything the dumb f*ck presenters have to say to the world.