Tuesday, 3 September 2013

RIP Sir David Frost: yesterday TW3, today HS2

The sad news that Sir David Frost is no longer with us has reminded me of an MP in the early 80s who sought to attribute the UK’s moral decline, at least in part, to the ground breaking TV show from 1962/63 That Was The Week That Was, otherwise known as TW3.

Presented by Frost, TW3 was said to have broken ground in lampooning the establishment and political figures of the time, notably those involved in the Profumo scandal. As they put it, every hypocrisy was highlighted and no target was deemed out of bounds.

With that in mind, the MP in question was surely mistaken. Respect for moral standards was hardly to be equated with unthinking deference and loyalty to those supposedly responsible for their upkeep, especially when they let themselves and their electors down in the process.

And TW3 led in turn to its successors, Not The Nine O’Clock News and Spitting Image, two TV classics from an era where its politicians had some distinct character to them. We would have been poorer without them.

Which leads to the present day. With the honourable exception of Have I Got News For You, where is our flagship political satire? Could it be that the current crew of ministers and opposition spokesmen have unintentionally rendered themselves beyond parody? Just look at their enthusiasm for the great white elephant of HS2, their worship of the green energy delusion, their impatience to get involved in foreign wars that are none of our business (thank God for backbench independence) and their loyalty to the dismal millstone of EU membership.

So let’s leave the last word to Sir David from his TW3 days. This is how he would end many a satirical attack on a political or establishment figure, a quotation which may be well overdue for resurrection. “But seriously, he’s doing a grand job.”

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