Radio: Does Jeremy Vine Mourn His Former Reputation as Jeremy Paxman's Mini-Me?
Cooke, Rachel, New Statesman (1996)
I love the way the steady pleasures of the radio schedules gently tether, even when you are all at sea. The other day, I struggled off a plane so sore-eyed with jet lag I hardly knew my own name. But then I got in a taxi and, because I could hear Jeremy Vine's lunchtime show on Radio 2, suddenly all became clear.
Vine is a proper radio presenter (I cannot quite see him as a DJ--though, with his fondness for the Smiths and New Order, he rather fancies himself as one) who manages to be both energetic and calming. Yes, he is almost freakishly enthusiastic when it comes to (very dull) consumer issues: "Gladys from Leicester is on the line. Gladys has also had problems finding a dentist." But he is also quick-witted and, on occasion, puckish. All of which makes him an inordinately reassuring voice to have around.
Difficult to believe that, when he took over from Jimmy Young two years ago, his appointment was mired in controversy. It is as if he has been in the job for ever. But do chats with the Gladyses of this world--even if leavened with the occasional cabinet minister--stretch Vine sufficiently? Does he mourn his former reputation as Jeremy Paxman's Mini-Me? Doesn't he sometimes long to scowl and snarl his way through a conversation? So it was with some interest that I listened to a programme that Vine presented on Radio 4 called Trouble in the Magic Circle (15 October, 10.30am). OK, so the "magic circle" part of the title did sound a bit fluffy. But the word "trouble" was altogether more promising. Surely this meant some kind of punch-up? In my mind's eye, I saw Vine stalking towards a large wooden box containing one half of a half-naked woman, while a man in evening dress tried to fight him off with a large wand. "Stand back!" Vine would shout. …