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LORRAINE WILSON: Welcome to GB News – or is it the Great British Turn Off?

Andrew Neil on GB News. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Andrew Neil on GB News. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Is it possible to be a political pundit without prejudice?

I’m not talking about taking up residence on the fence. The fence will always be there, and we naturally exist on one side of it.

But in a reverse of the grass always being greener on the other side, most of today’s political discourse shouts that our grass is the only grass! Across the fence is a woke/fascist (delete as appropriate) burning zombie-infested wasteland.

Reasonable doesn’t really cut it now.

We’re entrenched in our corners, waiting for the bell to ring for the next round. Even with friends, triggered by that bell and about to come out swinging, I’ve felt like their second. I wave a towel to cool them down, give them water, and ask them to put the phone down before they Tweet something they might regret.

Into this arena comes GB News, launched this week with a mission to give a voice to those who don’t feel represented by the mainstream media.

Utter hogwash of course. Wrapping it so tightly in the flag immediately alienates large swathes of the population in the UK. It doesn’t breach Ofcom impartiality though, so that’s OK.

It’s early days to judge its content. Miss Reasonable here again.

Although for a channel with such big bucks behind it, it does look like they’re squatting in an abandoned conference centre somewhere on an industrial estate.

Get your flags out for the lads

When the staff come back from furlough, they’ll need to gather up their union flags and scarper pretty sharpish.

There would be no surprise if Ricky Gervais, as David Brent, popped out from behind one of the suicidal cheese plants, as the entertainment correspondent.

The accompanying website introduces us to the “talent”. The page of profiles has their wee “proud to be British”  expressions.

They have matching outfits in, shall we say, a limited colour palette to match a certain flag. It looks less crack news squad, more the worst Olympic Team GB in history.

Nigel Farage preparing words of unbiased Brexity wisdom for GB News.

If a quick look at the presenting line-up doesn’t show what the wider agenda is, the choice of guests in the first week should raise a few alarm bells. Those voices of reason, Nigel Farage and Laurence Fox.

It will take time to see how the ratings settle down. As much as it will attract those who feel that we need a right-leaning broadcaster, there will be those who want to fulminate or add to growing Twitter account such as @GBNewsFails.

This delights in every audio fail, oversized caption that falls of the edge of the screen, presenters confusing a computer and corona virus, and thinking that Enid Blyton wrote The Magnificent Seven.

Golden goose and television turkey

The elephant strangely absent from the room is Piers Morgan. There’s little doubt that he would have been a golden goose.

Andrew Neil is far too measured but there are male/female pairings that would terrify me if I met them on holiday and they asked how I voted in the EU referendum.

Following his Good Morning Britain departure, Piers is still to pop up somewhere, like the blustering whack-a-mole that he is.

However, it has left room in the terminally beige world of morning news programmes for the gloriously gaffe-filled return of Richard Madeley.

It’s worth logging on to Twitter just to see which particularly inane and insane comment is trending that day. It certainly saves having to watch it.

Richard Madeley ponders his next smooth move on Good Morning Britain.

Since leaving the parental home I’ve been able to avoid morning news shows, although I do understand that for some people, particularly living alone, it’s a comfort to have faces talking at them first thing.

My own mum became quite invested in these characters. During one visit I was regaled with tales about what “Fiona” had been up to.

Wracking my brains to remember a long-forgotten relative, I realised she was referring to Fiona Phillips on GMTV.

Sorry mum, wrong Lorraine

That was fine. Being berated for NOT being Lorraine Kelly was slightly more galling.

Same name. Check.
Scottish. Check.
Dundee United supporter. Check.
Bank balance. The cheques are all with La Kelly there.

Morning TV did serve a purpose for her though, and I’m sure, if she was still with us, she would much prefer Madeley’s approach to Morgan’s.

Lorraine Kelly. Not to be confused with Lorraine Wilson.

There’s an abiding comparison to Alan Partridge and his “talk first, think later if I’m not still talking”, approach.

But there are Madeley moments that make Partridge’s reports on Norfolk windmills seem like award-winning reportage.

He manages to say pretty horrific things, but there’s no edge, coming from a man who still pays tribute to Princess Diana through the medium of his hair.

In many ways he’s perfect for morning TV and the perfect foil for what’s going on over at GB News. Both feel like stopgaps, however.

Madeley has been the super sub of beige TV for many years now, and over at GB News if ratings don’t satisfy the UAE-based backers, Katie Hopkins’ nose will be twitching, sniffing out a comeback.