Magazine article The Spectator

My Way

Magazine article The Spectator

My Way

Article excerpt

By the time you read this it's quite likely I shall be in mid-air on my long journey to Australia. I'm off on a month-long speaking tour to promote Killing the Earth to Save It (the Oz version of Watermelons) and I figured my flight might work out cheaper if I arranged to be travelling on Friday the 13th. Should my plane blow up or the door come off at 30,000 feet causing me to be sucked out of the aircraft or I succumb to deep-vein thrombosis you'll know I made the wrong call.

This will be the longest stretch without a Delingpole Spectator TV column since I took over Nigella Lawson's slot at the end of August 1995. I know exactly when it was because the first programme I had to review - on the orders of then-editor Frank Johnson - was the Martin Bashir interview with Princess Diana on Panorama in which she famously admitted to having had an adulterous relationship with James Hewitt.

As always when you go away, you worry that your replacement will do a better job.

Olivia Glazebrook, who is standing in for me, is already showing disconcerting signs of keenness. She has asked me to supply the codes to all the preview websites where one has to watch programmes these days, now that the TV channels no longer bike round preview videos or DVDs. No doubt her diligence will serve cruelly to expose how little TV I actually review myself.

My problem in life is that I've only ever wanted to do what I want to do rather than what other people think I should do. In some ways, this has served my career well, giving me the cussed independence of spirit and contra mundum fearlessness that some people value in a columnist. In other ways, however, it has screwed me completely. If I were an editor looking for new talent, I think I might balk at employing the kind of TV critic who thinks himself too grand actually to watch TV. If he's Richard Ingrams, well, possibly. But James Delingpole? ? ?

Perhaps this is why I like Easter so much.

Easter - in common with Christmas - is traditionally the time of year when there is nothing but absolute crap on TV, meaning that there is no must-see programme that the critic is under any obligation to review.

Bettany Hughes on Divine Women (BBC2, Wednesday)? I so do not care. Yep, it's quite possible that Bettany Hughes is the most inspirational historian of her generation and that the role of women in the early Church was in fact of such paramount importance that Hughes's scholarship will completely change the way we think about God, Christianity, everything. But I bloody doubt it. …

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