Magazine article The Spectator

Travails with Auntie

Magazine article The Spectator

Travails with Auntie

Article excerpt

Jeremy discusses neighbours who keep sofas and old cars in their garden, no-fault dismissal, It's All News to Me by Jeremy Vine Simon & Schuster, £18.99, pp. 339, ISBN 9781849837767 He's the Housewives' Favourite, the Voice of Middle England on Radio 2, one moment discussing the perils of your other half leaving the gas on, the next slipping on an Elvis Costello track to liven up your lunch. Bit of a cheeky chappie, affable, engaging, amusing, doesn't appear to take himself too seriously.

We like that in a broadcaster. Self-important windbags James Naughtie, Nick Robinson and John Simpson, do please take note.

how a tragic car crash shattered one family's lives and breastfeeding three-year olds, the show's website declares of his latest programme. This is the sort of stuff that he and his several million listeners are preoccupied by.

He says it has taken the plum Radio 2 job, which he got when Sir Jimmy Young was finally told he'd had a good innings, to make him realise that it's the public, not the journalist, that always has the best stories.

Of his many loyal callers he cites a couple of favourites who tell it as it is. There's Trish in Redditch who says: 'The only way to stop these complaints over animal testing is to try out all new drugs on animal rights protesters.' Then there's the caller who warns the Health Secretary against wasting money on an expensive anti-obseity programme: 'If you give obese people £780 million, they're just going to spend it on food.'

The book is rather like his programme:

lively, anecdotal and digressive. Working in the BBC's Westminster unit, he observes at close quarters the feline duplicity of Peter Mandelson, the heavy-handedness of Alastair Campbell and the ghastly hypocrisy of the political class:

One Tory MP who told me unattributably, 'John Major is an utter disgrace, he must go tomorrow', drew a deep breath when my microphone was on and then announced:

'I back the Prime Minister and I wish my colleagues would stop this pathetic sniping from the shadows.'

It may be an insight into why we think so little of our politicians.

It's All News to Me is a breezy canter through Vine's career at the BBC, from over-ambitious graduate trainee to seasoned Radio 2 fortysomething, via stints in Westminster, a posting to South Africa and a turbulent period at Newsnight, where he was known as 'Mini-Me' to Jeremy Paxman. …

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