Nora Johnson: Sofa Gate

Nora Johnson: Sofa Gate

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The dramatic departure of “smiley” sofa host Philip Schofield from ‘This Morning’ coincided with that of the equally “smiley” couple whose renovations of a derelict property in northwest France provided the basis for the reality TV show ‘Escape to the Chateau’.

Basically, unreality television!  And there’s so much of it: the oh-so-cosy repair workshops and get-rich-quick property and antique shows. That’s why I can’t watch any breakfast news programmes or morning chat shows with co-presenters. It’s all too sickly and unreal with their false smiles and scripted banter. ‘The One Show’ is another example. It’s just too nice and they all sit too close together…ugh!

So many sofa hosts ooze professional fake charm. That’s showbiz. Just like politicians of all parties do all the time, being friendly, pleasant, and seeking your blessing. As politicians they’re after your vote; as TV celebrities, your rating. They’re all about performance, the dark art of deception. Mutually-desired outcome: career advancement. Sofa-type breakfast shows and political appeals to the camera are exactly alike.

This Holly and Phil saga demonstrates why we shouldn’t idolise celebrities, and I really hope it is symptomatic of a sea change in how people view entertainers, especially of the light entertainment kind. The most serious, toxic examples we’ve seen? The Saviles, Harrises, Glitters etc. But even relatively benign non-entities like Holly and Phil are indicative of a similar sort of thing.

These people are not your mates. You don’t know them or have any personal link with them. They’re just individuals who are photogenic, charismatic and ambitious enough to provide linking chatter between musical acts or to present breakfast shows. You don’t know them any more than you know the nice estate agent attempting to flog you a flat by complimenting your get-up, hairstyle and keen eye for property. Believe it or not, he might just be attempting to flog you a flat.

Years ago, a pal of mine – a media PR – worked with a male presenter who was adored by women of a certain age for his massively popular morning show and who came across as warm, cuddly, caring and empathetic. Behind the scenes, though, he was really unpleasant, particularly to junior staff, and mean – “thank you” was rarely said – and he had a vast sense of entitlement. Fundamentally, he was an actor – he could switch on the charm and charisma at will, particularly when on air or in the limelight.

As for me, I always had my doubts about Hughie, “Sincerely folks” Green, the presenter of ‘Opportunity Knocks’. Thankfully, however, the real monsters have been unmasked. For years, Jimmy Savile, Rolf Harris, Stuart Hall and pop star Gary Glitter were adored by fans – but the horrifying truth of how they abused vulnerable fans and junior employees finally emerged. These men – national treasures unmasked as national disgraces – were serial abusers, getting away with impunity for years and years.

And we’re still reminded of the contradictory personas TV celebrities so often project with the recent death of the disgraced children’s entertainer, artist and convicted paedophile, Rolf Harris…

As usual, Shakespeare put it better and more succinctly: “One may smile, and smile, and be a villain” – ‘Hamlet’.

Nora Johnson’s 12 critically acclaimed psychological suspense crime thrillers ( all available online including eBooks (€0.99;£0.99), Apple Books, audiobooks, paperbacks at  Amazon etc. Profits to Cudeca cancer charity.                                   

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Nora Johnson

Novelist Nora Johnson offers insights on everything from current affairs to life in Spain, with humour and a keen eye for detail.