News, Culture & Society

PLATELL’S PEOPLE: Fiona Bruce doesn’t have the cunning to command the Question Time bear pit

BBC newsreader and Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce, who has reportedly been offered the job of hosting Question Time

As the presenter of the Antiques Roadshow, Fiona Bruce should be able to differentiate between a priceless chalice and a poisoned one.

One of the most eloquent, intelligent and gracious faces on TV, she has been offered the job of presenting Question Time, taking over from David Dimbleby who has held the chair for nearly a quarter of a century.

My advice? Don’t take it, Fiona!

It’s not that she’s not clever enough, she is. But replacing DD — an antique himself — is the most daunting prospect. As a long-time QT panellist, I have been a fierce critic of Dimbleby, yet I concede he has in his little finger more political knowledge than all of his guests combined.

Question Time is the only serious political programme that provides a platform for proper debate, pitting minister against shadow minister. Where panellists do battle with each other as well as the formidable and often baying audience.

It is a bear pit. Do Fiona’s virtues prepare her for that? Does she have the forensic political insight for the job? I suspect not, even though she cut her teeth on Panorama and Newsnight and was the first woman presenter on a BBC election broadcast.

Question Time is the only serious political programme that provides a platform for proper debate, pitting minister against shadow minister

Question Time is the only serious political programme that provides a platform for proper debate, pitting minister against shadow minister

In any case, would she really want to win the race when men were not included in the heats? Yes, Nick Robinson was a token male candidate but the achingly PC Beeb was never going to give the job to a man.

What joy is there in winning the top prize when 50 per cent of the candidates can’t compete? Andrew Neil, Robert Peston, John Pienaar, to name but a few — all excluded because of their sex. And much as I adore Fiona, does she really match up to Laura Kuenssberg or Emily Maitlis?

Question Time is the toughest of gigs for the presenter. It doesn’t require poise but cunning, political nous and a ferocity and command I suspect Fiona does not possess.

Replacing David Dimbleby, above, an antique himself — is the most daunting prospect. As a long-time QT panellist, I have been a fierce critic of Dimbleby, yet I concede he has in his little finger more political knowledge than all of his guests combined

Replacing David Dimbleby, above, an antique himself — is the most daunting prospect. As a long-time QT panellist, I have been a fierce critic of Dimbleby, yet I concede he has in his little finger more political knowledge than all of his guests combined

The job is not so much herding cats, as being ringmaster to starving lions ready to bite each others’ heads off. It’s not the Antiques Roadshow. This is politics in the raw, where everyone believes they know all the answers.

It is, and should be, forensic, fierce, formidable. That’s not Fiona Bruce. She’ll be a butterfly broken on the unrelenting wheel of politics.

Or does the BBC have some dastardly plan to turn QT into a nice, friendly chat? In which case three million viewers will turn off.

As a QT regular, I still get calls from politicians asking for advice before they go on. Apart from being on top of your brief, the key thing is to breathe calmly and smile. Advice not taken by the first woman I counselled, a Shadow Education Minister, one Theresa May. 

Nigella rises above

Nigella Lawson, above, who Amanda Platell calls a Domestic Goddess

Nigella Lawson, above, who Amanda Platell calls a Domestic Goddess

In an article from the Noughties printed in yesterday’s Mail — in celebration of Femail’s 50th anniversary — luscious Nigella Lawson was dismissed as ‘a conwoman preaching a gospel of tokenism’ at a time when most women ‘loathed’ baking.

Fast-forward a couple of decades and the Domestic Goddess is still standing and baking, despite having lost her mother, sister and husband to cancer, and despite a disastrous marriage which ended after her second husband appeared to ‘strangle’ her in public. Like a double-baked cheese souffle, Nigella keeps on rising.

Cheryl has been accused of ripping off Paul Young's hit Love of the Common People

Cheryl has been accused of ripping off Paul Young’s hit Love of the Common People

Cheryl out of love

How ludicrous that Cheryl has been accused of ripping off Paul Young’s Eighties hit Love Of The Common People for her new flop single Love Made Me Do It. 

Even in her most deluded moments, the former golden girl of pop, now abandoned by her fans, must realise she’s no longer ‘living in the love of the common people’.

Celeb Jungle dramas

Swoon moment was when Harry Redknapp (pictured) described how much he is missing his wife of 54 years, Sandra

Swoon moment was when Harry Redknapp (pictured) described how much he is missing his wife of 54 years, Sandra

So why did 11 million people tune in to the I’m A Celebrity jungle? Perhaps because the new Declan Donnelly-Holly Willoughby combo is just irresistible. And those legs! She is a ray of sunshine, unlike her predecessor Ant, who looked as though he was constantly chewing on kangaroo testicles. Dec the halls with thighs of Holly!

Swoon moment was when Harry Redknapp (pictured) described how much he is missing his wife of 54 years, Sandra. All he ever wanted in life was to be with her, he said, adding that he was glad he didn’t kill her when he accidentally ran over her in his car.

And I do worry about the safety of The Chase star Anne Hegerty. 

She is so obese she can’t take part in any of the Bush Tucker Trials that don’t involve food. 

Anne Hegerty pictured on I'm a Celebrity. She is also known as The Governess on quiz show The Chase

Anne Hegerty pictured on I’m a Celebrity. She is also known as The Governess on quiz show The Chase

Diagnosed with Asperger’s, she struggles with the most menial of tasks and they make jokes about ‘getting her out of bed’ in the morning as she has to be rolled out of her hammock. 

It’s verging on cruelty. Time to Chase Her Out Of Here . . .

Westminster Wars

Gordon Brown wants to set up People’s Parliaments all over the nation, where panels of experts discuss Brexit and we ordinary folk get to vote on their deliberations, a bit like The X Factor. An eye-watering thought, our former PM as a perma-tanned, medallioned Simon Cowell — white shirt opened to his navel.

On top of his £77,379 backbench salary, Boris has topped up his earnings last year by £244,000 with speeches and his bilious columns about the Brexit ‘divorce deal’. Ironic that most of the money will go on his own divorce deal after being serially unfaithful to his wife, Marina.

Gordon Brown, above, wants to set up People’s Parliaments all over the nation, where panels of experts discuss Brexit

Gordon Brown, above, wants to set up People’s Parliaments all over the nation, where panels of experts discuss Brexit

In an online quiz about Game Of Thrones, Michael Gove reveals he thinks he’s most like Tyrion Lannister, the cunning dwarf. Too modest, Michael. Surely he’s a reincarnation of the dastardly Petyr Baelish, who’d smother his own mother for a seat on the throne.

The prehistoric natives of North Sentinel Island waving their bows and arrows before killing a missionary seemed only slightly less friendly than equally old-fashioned Jacob Rees-Mogg was to Theresa May when she brought back her Brexit deal.

My Christmas miracle

On Wednesday, my dad fell in the shower and broke his hip.

For me the heartbreaking incident was a reminder of how helpless those of us with elderly parents so often are because we can’t be there when they need us most.

Last night, after a successful operation, he said he was determined to get back with Mum soon to celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary early next year. Sometimes Christmas comes early.

Tell it to the boss

After shocking videos of a policewoman being kicked in the head, the police union called for the public to intervene. We all have a duty to protect officers, we’re told.

Tell that to the Met’s Deputy Commissioner, Craig Mackey, who chose to lock himself in his car rather than assist a fellow officer who was being stabbed to death in the Westminster terror attack last year.

Eco warrior Prince Charles says we must end our throwaway culture. We need to re-make clothes not discard them, mend them as he has done all his life, still wearing classic suits that are decades old. A timely message, but especially for his new daughter-in-law Megs, who hasn’t been seen twice in any of her couture creations.

City boss Helena Morrissey says she and Stella McCartney discuss ‘normal women’s stuff’ at the school gates — no doubt wrapped up in their £1,365 on-trend faux-fur leopard-print McCartney coats. As you do. 

After meeting him on Facebook, mother-of-nine Heidi Hepworth, 45, is insisting on marrying her Gambian lover Mamadou Salieu Jallow, 31, in a mosque in The Gambia as she believes it is a ‘more caring place than Britain’. 

Maybe so, but I bet Mr Jallow, a taxi driver, concludes that benefits-rich Britain is a more ‘caring place’ to live out their blissful married life than his home country.

The BBC is minded to axe free TV licences for the over-75s. Perhaps this would be more palatable if it started axing over-£75,000 salaries for its army of no-talent pen-pushers. 

Animal rights group PETA has demanded a 1,000-year-old Dorset village change its name from Wool to Vegan Wool, claiming it’s cruel to sheep. 

Wonder what PETA thinks of the Greater Manchester town of Ramsbottom?

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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