Category Archives: Media

Remembering Harry Carpenter (1925-2010)

I was sad to hear of the death today of the BBC’s ‘voice of boxing’ Harry Carpenter. A true master of his craft, Carpenter was perhaps best known for commentating on Frank Bruno’s fights and interviewing the boxer afterwards when Bruno would inevitably utter his memorable catchphrase “Know what I mean Arry”

Harry Carpenter was the BBC's voice of boxing for half a century.

He also interviewed Muhammad Ali, describing him as “not only the most remarkable sports personality I have ever met, he is the most remarkable man I have ever met”. Carpenter was one of the BBC’s top sports commentators, a true wordsmith alongside such masters of the microphone as David Coleman, Alan Weeks, Ron Pickering, Ted Lowe and Jim Laker.

Many of the tributes to him describe Carpenter as being humble and totally unflash. It’s something I can vouch for, having met the great man in 1990 on a standard class train carriage en route from Newcastle to London. It was the day of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation and on hearing the news from a passenger who had just got on the train, Carpenter looked up briefly from reading his paper and said simply: “Quite remarkable”.

He was himself a quite remarkable broadcaster. He’ll be greatly missed.

Gooses and golden eggs at the News of the World

So, Max Clifford has accepted £1m from the News of the World in return for him dropping his legal action against the paper over them intercepting his voicemail messages. That’s illegal phone tapping to you and me – an offence that would see us prosecuted and probably sent to prison quicker than you could say: “press three to delete”.

A profitable relationship: Max Clifford and the News of the World

Clifford and the News of the World’s cosy cover-up (sorry settlement) means that the downmarket tabloid may now avoid having to disclose court-ordered evidence that was likely to reveal the involvement of its ‘journalists’ in illegal information gathering (phone tapping of celebrities and others) by shadowy private investigators.

So far so grubby. It’s par for the course for a so-called newspaper that apparently believes it can buy the silence of people who had their phones hacked. Apart from wondering whether the paper will now hand back the various awards it has won over the years for ‘investigative journalism’, I can’t help wondering about Max Clifford’s motivation in helping the News of the World avoid further embarrassing disclosures.

Over to you Max. “I’m now looking forward to continuing the successful relationship that I experienced with the News of the World for 20 years before my recent problems with them,” said Clifford after the settlement was announced. I’ll bet he is.

Gooses and golden eggs anyone?

In defence of the BBC

I’ll declare an interest from the off. I’ve always been a BBC man. One of my earliest memories was sat on the stairs at home, aged four, ignoring Zebedee’s “Time for bed” instruction from The Magic Roundabout so I could sneak a listen to Kenneth Kendall or Richard Baker reading the early evening news. Listening to the news aged four? No wonder I ended up working in PR!

We were a BBC family in our house, you see. Blue Peter not Magpie for us. David Coleman not Brian Moore. Frank Bough not Dickie Davies. Robin Day not Bryan Waldon. Look North not Calendar. TV choices were much easier back in the day. Our old Rediffusion wall clicker switch hardly ever moved from position Beeb. No multi channel, multiple choice then. It was all so simple.

Would you trust this man with the BBC?

I like the BBC. At it’s best it provides quality entertainment, sport, documentary and news output that is rightly the envy of the world. Yes, it has its faults. What massive organisation that has existed for years and years wouldn’t? And of course it can be improved. But the latest statements coming from the BBC’s current director general Mark Thompson represent something much more than a corrective trimming of the Beeb in the face of difficult economic times.

Thompson’s plans, cheered on by a voracious pack of vested interests in the commercial, terrestrial and satellite media, represent an assault on public service broadcasting as we know it and should be resisted. Do we really want to see the increasing Murdoch-ification of our media? I don’t and I hope there are enough ex-followers of Peter Purves, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes who keep the faith to stop this madness.

If you feel the same, register your opposition here and join the fightback!