James Innes-Smith

James Innes-Smith is the author of two books about old school entertainers, Life Is A Cabaret and Reach For The Big Time.

The problem with YouTube’s political adverts

Even a few seconds can feel like an eternity when your favourite Spectator TV debate is interrupted by a sweaty bloke in a bedsit flogging digital currency. YouTube understands how painful its ludicrous advertising interludes have become which is presumably why they invented the five-second skip button. Regular ads are bad enough but it’s those twenty-minute

Matthew Lynn, Tanya Gold, James Innes-Smith

13 min listen

On this week’s episode, we’ll hear Matthew Lynn’s thoughts on how the gas shortages could lead to a very cold winter. (00:51) Then, Tanya Gold with a critical take on critics. (04:41) And finally, James Innes-Smith bigs up the bungalow. (08:58) Presented by Sam Holmes

The death of an axe man

The death of legendary axe grinder Eddie Van Halen is a sad reminder of how far rock music has fallen since those heady, head-banging days of the 1970s and 1980s when hairy, denim-clad blokes bestrode the earth, power-chording their way into our collective consciousness. Once the foundation of any self-respecting rock anthem, the obligatory guitar

Lateral thinking: the beauty of bungalows

We keep hearing about the importance of levelling up. Architects tasked with the responsibility of building new homes, however, might want to consider levelling across. With land prices at a premium, bungalows may not appear to be the most prudent use of limited space but lateral living has plenty to recommend it. Originally built for

The trouble with being beautiful

It’s National Inclusion Week when we all come together to ‘celebrate everyday inclusion in all its forms’. This year’s theme is ‘unity’ where ‘thousands of inclusioneers worldwide’ are being encouraged to ‘take action to be #UnitedForInclusion.’ In the bewildering world of identity politics, however, there is one group of excluded individuals you won’t be hearing

There’s more to the men’s movement than Incels

The horror of August’s mass shooting by 22-year-old Jake Davison caused many commentators to point towards a dangerous underbelly of male disaffection. But what many overlooked was the fact that the shadowy underground group of disenfranchised males that inspired Davison to take up arms is part of a much larger network of male activism dating back

The horror of country house hotels

With so many of us forced to holiday at home this year, that most English of institutions, the country house hotel, has been experiencing something of a renaissance. The number of guests desperate for a slice of upper crust hospitality after months of slumming it at home has rocketed so you may struggle to book

Is it any wonder that men are put off by the BBC?

Is it any surprise that research carried out by the corporation for its annual report found that more than a quarter of men feel that the BBC ‘no longer reflects people like me’? In a concerted effort to redress gender imbalance men are gradually being airbrushed out. Across much of the BBC men have become something

The death of masculinity

The Duchess of Sussex says she wants her father/son themed children’s book The Bench ‘to depict another side of masculinity — one grounded in connection, emotion, and softness.’ This assumes of course that men aren’t already connected, emotional and soft, which, as a touchy-feely kind of bloke I find a little off.  Imagine if I

The enduring appeal of Friends

I would love to have been there at the original pitch meeting for Friends, ‘So yeah, it’s about a bunch of friends.’ Pitching The Office must have been similarly brusque, ‘It’s about some office workers working in an office.’ And The Simpsons? ‘Oh yeah, that’s the one about a family called… the Simpsons’. Like all

The sad demise of Alan Partridge

One of my favourite Alan Partridge moments — and there have been many — is the now infamous scene from I’m Alan Partridge, where north Norfolk’s most beloved DJ — Alan’s words not mine — is chased down a remote country track by a psychotic stalker. On reaching a dead end our hero leaps over a

How to apply for a post-truth position

Anyone over the age of 35 would be advised to hire a translator before rifling through the jobs section of the Guardian. Looking for a role in education? You will need a first in doublespeak just to understand what it is you are applying for. When I clicked on a listing for an ‘Infrastructure Support

A brief history of ‘lived experience’

All experiences are lived, of course, but it seems some experiences are more ‘lived’ than others. Truth has become a moveable feast. This may seem like a contradiction. But this is where we find ourselves. How you define the notion of truthfulness is yet another signifier of where you stand in the increasingly wearisome culture

Why Gen-Z is turning its back on the BBC

Do 16-34 year olds still watch terrestrial TV? More importantly, will they still be watching in a year’s time when BBC 3 re-launches as a linear station? Six years ago, the youth orientated channel switched to digital-only as part of a £100 million cost cutting measure. Since then they have produced a couple of runaway successes

The truth about the Gen Z abstinence fad

MeToo may have fundamentally shifted the way men and women interact, but that hasn’t stopped a musty, old turn of the century relationship manual from making a surprise comeback. In Sherry Argov’s 2001 bestseller Why Men Love Bitches, the journalist offers tips on how to bag a man. Her principal premise is a surprising one:

British comedy needs a new Brass Eye

Britain has always prided itself on the rich diversity of its comedy output, from trouser splitting farce to cerebral satire but our genius for tickling the world’s funny bone has reached a crisis point – something has gone terribly awry. A new report on the BBC’s TV output from regulator Ofcom has classed comedy as

No more echo chambers: the internet’s best left-wing thinkers

As culture and politics become ever more polarised, it’s tempting to retreat into the reassuring hum of our own echo chambers and positive feedback loops. But this reluctance to engage with ‘the other side’ can only corrode civil discourse. As regular readers of The Spectator will know, listening to opposing views in good faith allows

12 thinkers to discover online this year

Now that we’re all stuck at home with our devices the temptation is to succumb to a vortex of internet clickbait in the vain hope that it will distract us until lockdown ends. But resist the allure of that cat video if you can and instead discover the rich seam of documentaries, lectures and long-form discussions with some of the

Why I won’t mourn the death of the cinema

You could smell the stale popcorn and rancid carpet from the other end of the high street but that unmistakable Odeon odour always set my pulse racing. That was before we lost the vast art deco interior to corporate greed and short sightedness. The carving up of the beautifully ornate auditorium into three miniscule screens

What is Russia’s plan to unleash chaos?

39 min listen

As the long-awaited Russia report is released this week, we discuss Russia’s plan to unleash chaos (00:45). Plus, does Boris Johnson have a management problem with his new MPs? (14:30) And last, the pains of dating during lockdown (28:30). With Russia journalists Owen Matthews and Mary Dejevsky; the Spectator’s deputy political editor Katy Balls; Conservative