News, Culture & Society

Historian David Starkey brands Question Time an ’embarrassment’

As the BBC races to find a replacement for its Question Time host David Dimbleby, its most controversial panellist is calling for the ‘dreadful’ flagship show to be axed once and for all.

Television historian David Starkey claims Dimbleby, 79, who is stepping down as presenter later this year, has brought the live debate programme on BBC1 to its demise by over-indulging the audience.

‘I think Question Time has come to the end of its life. It think it should become something else now,’ says 73-year-old Starkey, who has divided viewers with his forthright opinions and frequent put-downs on the show. ‘I always say about great BBC programmes, like Top Gear, that they get to a point where you would normally say bye-bye, but what happens instead is they become national institutions and continue for ever — however awful they are. And, of course, Dimbleby symbolises that.’

Television historian David Starkey claims Dimbleby, 79 (pictured), who is stepping down as presenter later this year, has brought the live debate programme on BBC1 to its demise by over-indulging the audience.

The outspoken Tudor expert, who recently blasted TV bosses for giving presenting jobs to ‘old ugly women’, admits he’s frustrated that he hasn’t appeared on the show since 2015.

‘I shall never be on it again because I’m old, I’m male, I’m pale, I’m Right-wing,’ he tells me ‘They couldn’t possibly have people like me on it.’

Some of the BBC’s top broadcasters, including Desert Island Discs’ Kirsty Young, Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark and the Today programme’s Mishal Husain, are said to be battling it out to replace Dimbleby, who has missed only one episode during his 25-year reign.

‘The great problem with Question Time is the role they have accorded the audience,’ adds Starkey, who once brusquely told an audience member that if he couldn’t recognise propaganda from fact, he ‘shouldn’t be at a programme like this’.

‘The audience is very long-winded, very vague, very boring to listen to and desperately indulged by Dimbleby, and I think we need to go back to a much sharper debate programme.

‘Get people who really know about things to debate and go head-to-head. Not dilute it with the audience. It’s dreadful, it’s an embarrassment.’

The outspoken Tudor expert (pictured) who recently blasted TV bosses for giving presenting jobs to ¿old ugly women¿, admits he¿s frustrated that he hasn¿t appeared on Question Time since 2015

The outspoken Tudor expert (pictured) who recently blasted TV bosses for giving presenting jobs to ‘old ugly women’, admits he’s frustrated that he hasn’t appeared on Question Time since 2015

Stage and screen star Jonathan Pryce discovered an unexpected upside to playing eccentric knight Don Quixote in Terry Gilliam’s long-awaited film. ‘I had one of the best times ever,’ Pryce, 71, tells me.

‘There were no rules — I could behave however I wanted. I was mostly on horseback, which was great. I was more comfortable on a horse than standing. When you get to my age, it’s better to be sitting down a lot!’

Great-grandpa Douglas, 101, dotes on little Lua in tender family snap 

Looking relaxed in slippers and sunglasses, the 101-year-old film legend is utterly captivated by the youngest member of the Douglas family, holding out his hands to eight-month-old baby Lua Izzy¿s outstretched little arm

Looking relaxed in slippers and sunglasses, the 101-year-old film legend is utterly captivated by the youngest member of the Douglas family, holding out his hands to eight-month-old baby Lua Izzy’s outstretched little arm

Spartacus star Kirk Douglas is clearly revelling in his latest role of great-grandfather, as this tender photo of him with his first great-grandchild reveals.

Looking relaxed in slippers and sunglasses, the 101-year-old film legend is utterly captivated by the youngest member of the Douglas family, holding out his hands to eight-month-old baby Lua Izzy’s outstretched little arm.

The heart-warming scene features family photos in the background, and was captured by Kirk’s grandson Cameron, 39, the baby’s father and one-time drug-taking troubled son of actor Michael Douglas and his first wife Diandra.

This is not the first time baby Lua, born in December to Viviane Thibes, Cameron’s Brazilian-born yoga instructor girlfriend who stood by him during the seven-year prison sentence he served for drugs offences, has been seen with her great-grandpa.

In January, Cameron posted a photo online of the newborn cradled in Kirk’s arms.

  • Game Of Thrones actor Kit Harington is starting married life on a high. The 31-year-old, who wed co-star Rose Leslie this summer, has become one of the UK’s most bankable names after making £1.3 million last year. Now new figures show the West-London-born actor, who plays Jon Snow in the HBO series, has amassed more than £2.2 million in the bank. It marks a successful year for Harington, who also recently played Robert Catesby in the BBC series Gunpowder.

Clean-eating Ella tucks into a big pizza

The 27-year-old posted a picture at the weekend showing her indulging in a large mushroom pizza while on holiday in Italy with her husband Matt Mills, son of the late Dame Tessa Jowell

The 27-year-old posted a picture at the weekend showing her indulging in a large mushroom pizza while on holiday in Italy with her husband Matt Mills, son of the late Dame Tessa Jowell

Criticised for promoting ‘clean-eating’ when she launched her wildly popular health food empire, Deliciously Ella, in 2012, Mrs Mills is now determined to prove she doesn’t live on rabbit food alone.

The 27-year-old posted a picture at the weekend showing her indulging in a large mushroom pizza while on holiday in Italy with her husband Matt Mills, son of the late Dame Tessa Jowell.

‘Balance is exactly what we’ve been doing,’ explains Ella, the daughter of ex-Labour MP Shaun Woodward and supermarket heiress Camilla Sainsbury.

‘Mostly it’s avocado, rice, chickpeas, lentils and broccoli at home, because it makes me feel so energised, but when we’re travelling in Italy it has to be pizza.’ When in Rome . . .

He’s the UK’s best-paid male model, but not even David Gandy can get a table at his favourite restaurant. The 38-year-old, who shot to fame wearing tiny white trunks in a Dolce & Gabbana advert, was dismayed this week when he and his pregnant girlfriend, criminal lawyer Stephanie Mendoros, were turned away without a reservation by Daylesford in Marylebone, London. He relayed his heated exchange with the staff on Twitter. ‘Can [Mendoros] sit anywhere while we wait?’ he asked, apparently receiving in reply a rather unsympathetic: ‘Pfft.’

The 38-year-old, who shot to fame wearing tiny white trunks in a Dolce & Gabbana advert (pictured) was dismayed this week when he and his pregnant girlfriend, criminal lawyer Stephanie Mendoros, were turned away without a reservation by Daylesford in Marylebone, London

The 38-year-old, who shot to fame wearing tiny white trunks in a Dolce & Gabbana advert (pictured) was dismayed this week when he and his pregnant girlfriend, criminal lawyer Stephanie Mendoros, were turned away without a reservation by Daylesford in Marylebone, London

Former BBC director general Mark Thompson, now chief executive of the New York Times Company, was memorably very generous when he approved a £1 million payoff for his deputy, Mark Byford, in 2010. And it appears he is continuing to offer him financial support. I notice that Byford, who is raising money for Samaritans with a 52-mile walk, has received £500 in sponsorship from a Mark T, who writes: ‘Well done, Mark!’ on his fundraising site.

  • Saucy novelist Kathy Lette, who has just finished her one-woman show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, reveals she’s ready to jump out of her comfort zone again. ‘Instead of heading home, on impulse I’ve diverted to Loch Ness to try my hand at kayaking,’ explains the 59-year-old. ‘I may not find out if Nessie is merely a fishy figment of imagination or the world’s most mysterious aquatic enigma, but I’ll certainly have fun trying.’

Bond: Work flirting’s fun! 

Broadcaster Jennie Bond, who spent 14 years as the BBC’s royal correspondent, claims flirting at work is good for morale.

‘I quite like flirtation in an office. It adds a sense of fun,’ Bond, 68, tells me. ‘I’d walk by [the BBC bosses] and pinch their bum or give them a slap. So what? I wasn’t saying: “I want to go to bed with you.” ’ Happily married to her husband of 36 years, James Keltz, Bond insists she was able to handle herself if things went too far.

‘I am of that generation with Anne Robinson when, if a man was inappropriate, it was absolutely routine, and you slapped them, told them to go away or just got on with life.

Ciao Venice! Naomi pulls up in style

Hollywood star Naomi Watts is kicking off this year’s Venice Film Festival in style.

The 49-year-old blonde ensured all eyes were on her when she arrived at the annual festival dressed in a Giorgio Armani pastel blue pleated dress, teamed with an ivory, wide-brimmed trilby hat and spotless white trainers.

The mother of two, who was born in Shoreham, Kent, before moving to Wales aged eight, then to Australia aged 14, posted this snap (left) online from a boat, as she teased a glimpse of her legs.

‘Here we go,’ she captioned it.

The 49-year-old blonde ensured all eyes were on her when she arrived at the annual festival dressed in a Giorgio Armani pastel blue pleated dress, teamed with an ivory, wide-brimmed trilby hat and spotless white trainers.

The 49-year-old blonde ensured all eyes were on her when she arrived at the annual festival dressed in a Giorgio Armani pastel blue pleated dress, teamed with an ivory, wide-brimmed trilby hat and spotless white trainers.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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