Reaction Media Review Column 33: Mrs Brown's Boys, Radio Today Podcast & George VI

  • 24 Dec 2020

This column first appeared on Reaction. Mrs Brown’s Boys, BBC1 This week we learned that Mrs Brown’s Boys had been renewed by BBC1 for – wait for it – another five years. Perhaps it’s the circles I move in, but I have yet to find a single person who watches it, let alone...

Reaction Media Column 33: Kay Burley & Britain's 'Shagaluf'

  • 17 Dec 2020

This column first appeared on Reaction. Kay Burley at Breakfast, Sky News I had intended to review Kay Burley’s breakfast show today, but events have scuppered me. Or rather, Kay herself has scuppered me. Her 60th birthday celebrations (60? Never!) have made some Cumming...

Review Media Column 32: All or Nothing - Tottenham Hotspur

  • 8 Dec 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction. All or Nothing, Tottenham Hotspur, Amazon Prime “Iain, I’m going to make you feel empathy with Tottenham Hotspur and within six hours you’re also going to have a sneaking liking for Jose Mourinho.” No, not the words of a hypnotist...

Reaction Media Column 31: The Crown

  • 1 Dec 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction. The rise in popularity of TV subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime is, in no small part, due to the popularity of bingeworthy series such as Outlander, You, House of Cards, and, of course, The Crown. The Crown, in pa...

Reaction Media Review 30: Simon Reeve in Cornwall & Naked Attraction

  • 24 Nov 2020

Cornwall with Simon Reeve, BBC2 I’ve become a bit of a Simon Reeve groupie. It was several years ago that I encountered one of his travel programmes where he was travelling around some far flung neck of the woods and I was instantly entranced. He’s a slightly gawky thirty-s...

Reaction Media Column 29: Location, Location, Location & Alan Johnson's Podcast

  • 20 Nov 2020

Location Location Location, Channel 4 There’s nothing more pleasurable than a bit of property porn on TV, and Channel 4 is certainly the place to get it. They pioneered the genre with Location, Location, Location twenty years ago and it’s sprouted several offshoots since, a...

Ranking Our 55 Prime Ministers - An Impossible Task, But a Fascinating One

  • 12 Nov 2020

Today is publication day for my new book THE PRIME MINISTERS 1721-2020 - THREE HUNDRED YEARS OF POLITICAL LEADERSHIP. It was lovely to get an invite to mark the occasion to go on the TODAY PROGRAMME to talk about what makes a great Prime Minister. This isn't in the book, b...

Reaction Media Column 28: Breaking News

  • 3 Nov 2020

This column first appeared on Reaction. The Nice Terror Attack and  the EHRC Report into Antisemitism in the Labour Party, Sky News & BBC News Channel The problem with breaking news for any broadcast organisation is that you often have very little information to go o...

Reaction Media Review Column 27: Top Gear & Pointless Celebrities

  • 31 Oct 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction. Top Gear, BBC1 The new series of Top Gear is a revelation. It’s got back to its roots, and then some. I could never understand why the country’s premier car show was tucked away on BBC2, but now, after several decades it’s finally...

The 'Pointless Celebrities' Experience

  • 25 Oct 2020

Back in early January Jacqui Smith and I were invited to appear on Pointless Celebrities (insert your own joke here), so off we tootled to the BBC Elstree Studios, not quite knowing what to expect. In my case, I had never even watched the programme, so wasn't wholly familar wi...

Reaction Media Review Column 26: 'The Comey Rule' & 'Political Thinking'

  • 20 Oct 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction.   The Comey Rule, Sky Atlantic Jim Comey was Director of the FBI when Donald Trump came to power. Indeed, some say that without Comey, Trump might never have won the election. It was he who ordered that the inquiry into Hillary...

Reaction Media Review Column 25: Could cancel culture scare off the new generation of political commentators?

  • 13 Oct 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction.   Reasoned with Darren Grimes, YouTube and all podcast platforms Darren Grimes has a certain reputation – most of it thoroughly undeserved. His reputation should be as one of the most articulate voices for Brexit in the country...

Six Literary Events I'm Speaking at in October - Bristol, Wells, Thame, Twickenham, Diss & Southwark

  • 9 Oct 2020

This coming weekend I'm speaking at four events discussing my book WHY CAN'T WE ALL JUST GET ALONG, and then another couple before the end of the month... Friday 16 October, Bristol Festival of Ideas, 12.30pm This is an online event, where I'll be interviewed by Marg...

Reaction Media Review Column 24: Presidential Debate & Coming Out Stories Podcast

  • 9 Oct 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction.   Trump v Biden: The First Presidential Debate, Sky News, CNN & BBC This was never going to be an edifying hour and half of prime-time television, and it certainly wasn’t. Some pundits reckoned Joe Biden would score a win j...

Telegraph Column: The Diminished Role of the Conservative Party Chairman

  • 7 Oct 2020

This article first appeared in the Daily Telegraph.   Back in the not-so-distant past, the job of Conservative Party Chairman was one that every single Conservative MP hankered after. In the Thatcher government it held the status in Cabinet of being almost on a par with ...

National Poetry Day: When an Enemy Turns Into a Friend

  • 2 Oct 2020

Some weeks ago I was accused on Twitter of being a Tory stooge and worse by someone I didn't know. I defended myself. Richard then DMd me to apologise. Since then, we've developed a somewhat bizarre but really nice online friendship. Yesterday was National Poetry Day, and h...

Reaction Media Column 23: Brunel & The Making an Impression Podcast

  • 1 Oct 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction.   Brunel: The Man Who Built Britain. Channel 5 A few weeks ago I wrote about the unpredictable quality of Channel 5’s multifarious and omnipresent royal documentaries. Some are complete tat, whereas others combine original rese...

Reaction Media Column 22: 'Washington' & the Biteback Chats Books' podcast

  • 26 Sep 2020

This article first appeared on Reaction.   Washington, History If there’s one thing that American TV channels do very well, it is making TV series about their presidents. I’ve written in previous columns about PBS America’s latest documentaries on Clinton, Bush and Re...

A Trip to North Devon - Book Festival, Family Visit & Road Troubles

  • 21 Sep 2020

Let me tell you about my weekend. As you know, I don't take much time off, and in a sense part of this weekend has been a bit of a busman's holiday, since I'm ostensibly in North Devon to speak at the Appledore Book Festival. However, I have family here too, so I've taken the ...

Reaction Media Column 21: 'Me & My Penis' & the How to Fail Podcast

  • 16 Sep 2020

This column appeared originally on Reaction. Me and My Penis, Channel 4 If you’re the sort of person who likes to see lots of willies on TV, you lucked out last Monday on Channel 4. It came on the back of (if you’ll pardon the expression) last year’s Channel 4 female equ...