John humphrys

Russell Brand is duller than even the grimmest political interview

I have just spent a few moments in bed with the popular comedian Russell Brand and I have to say that I enjoyed it hugely. We did not have full penetrative sex, sadly, and when I say ‘in bed with’ I mean it sort of figuratively, or vicariously. What happened is that I watched Russell’s latest address to the world, which he delivers regularly from his bedroom — complete with those by now familiar mangled, high-camp estuarial vowels, tortuously pretentious grammar and infantile, uninformed narcissistic political opinions. Russell sits on the bed and tells us about the state of the world, man, and how it’s all, like, shit, and this stuff

Without Paxman, the BBC will have just one interrogator: John Humphrys

In a double blow for the beleaguered BBC, the corporation has lost three of its most compelling attractions in little more than a month: the Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman, and Susanna Reid’s legs. Paxman has said he has had enough and announced his retirement from the thinly viewed current affairs programme. Susanna Reid’s legs have made their way over to ITV for its even more thinly viewed breakfast show called ‘Phwoar, Wake Up and Have a Look At This’ or whatever. The legs have attracted criticism for spending a substantial proportion of the show hidden from view under a desk while the rest of Susanna Reid jabbered about something with

The Today programme’s ‘Phwoof!’ moment

‘Phwhoof!’ exclaimed Evan at 8.27, before reluctantly turning us over to the sport report on Saturday morning’s Today (Radio 4). His intense connection with what he had just listened to in the studio (and we had heard at home while slowly waking up to the day) as Gavin Hewitt and Duncan Crawford reported from the centre of Kiev was palpable. Things were happening in Ukraine. The situation was changing fast. What we had been told at 7 a.m. — that anti-government demonstrators were continuing to occupy their protest camp in Independence Square — had become, in fewer than 90 minutes, very much old news. Evan Davies was signalling to us

Immigration allows Britain to fake progress, not make progress

Is Britain addicted to immigration? I argued so in my Telegraph column yesterday and Radio 4’s Today programme held a discussion about it this morning and asked me on (22 mins in, here). You can say that that immigration has worked wonders for the economy – without it, we’d have a pathetic 2 per cent more people in work than in 1997. As things stand, our workforce has expanded by 11 per cent. We’d actually notice the number British people emigrating (the exodus has doubled to 400 a day under Cameron) so the ever-growing growing debt pile would be shouldered by a shrinking workforce. David Cameron would have no jobs

The welfare trap

John Humphrys last night presented a documentary on welfare, the single most important topic in Britain. It was excellent, and I’d recommend CoffeeHousers watch the whole thing (on iPlayer here). Humphrys is a great presenter, himself the product of the now-forgotten days of social mobility when a kid from a working-class district (Splott in Cardiff) could end up presenting the 9 O’Clock News in his 30s. “In those days, everybody was expected to work,” he said of his childhood. “We knew only one family where the father did not work, and he was a pariah…. Today, one in three of working-age people is on out-of-work benefits.” This is what the

Brown comes under heavy fire on Today

Woah. I doubt Brown will endure many tougher twenty-minute spells during this election campaign than his interview with on the Today Programme this morning. You could practically hear the crunching of his teeth, as John Humphrys took him on over Labour’s economic record; practically smell the sweat and fear dripping down his brow. It was compulsive, and compelling, stuff. Humphrys started by putting a grim story to Brown: that his “handling of the economy was not prudent … your record suggests that the economy is not safe in your hands.”  The PM’s mission was to deny all this, and he did so with his usual stubborness and disingenuity.  His pitch