Awful moment last night when I walked into the living room and discovered Stephen Nolan had been given a TV Show.
I had a Father Jack Hackett moment ….”How did that gobshite get on the television?”
I would like to see Nolan on that show with Davina McCall and Nicky Campbell. They travel the world re-uniting long lost family members. Stephen Nolan has “family” out there in USA and England……Rush Limbaugh, Shaun Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Jon Gaunt, James Whale. Shock Jocks with the same broadcasting DNA.
Just how Nolan managed to get a radio show ……ninety minutes long……five mornings a week is a mystery. I have never listened to it. It seems to be the chosen show of taxi-drivers but I refuse to get into a taxi with Radio Ulster and Stephen Nolan. Simples.
I can understand the taxi driver demographic but I was horrified to discover that a senior politician never misses it. And just how Nolan came to set the “political agenda” is perhaps a bigger mystery.
Nolan’s technique is the well-trodden shock jock path. Look for controversy. Pose as “man of the people” and referee a heated discussion between members of the public……seemingly chosen for their idiocy. Sprinkle the show with some anti-politics tirades and a willing politician to be confronted.
Last night Nolan made an unwelcome appearance on our screens. The item on “Punishment Beatings” was typically Nolan. A good issue for him….and his brand of “journalism”.In the Nolan world……there are thugs out who do not respond to police, courts, probation and prison. In the dark old days of the 1970s and 1980s..there was kangaroo justice operated by the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries. The IRA turned to Politics and the loyalists turned to Crime. In the unsophisticated world of the Nolan listener….the answer is vigilante justice. The show would have been made complete by a phone call from a “Mr Zimmermann in Florida” who allegedly has the same attitude to vigilante justice as a Nolan viewer.
Another issue dealt with by Nolan was “regional pay”…..an idea from the Conservative-led government in London…. to make the pay of civil servants in unemployment black spots (such as Norn Iron) based on local needs…..obviously this is an unpopular move with people here. The Nolan Show needs a pantomime villain and this was provided by A Posh Girl who was on The Apprentice Show.
In an effort to show his credentials as a serious investigative reporter (!), Stephen Nolan took to the road to Portrush and Portstewart where a local developer was apparently playing fast and loose with planning laws. Nolan confronted him in the street, probably hoping for a great television moment where our intrepid reporter was dealt some verbal or worse abuse. Nothing happened. The confronted builder drove off in silence.
Nolan decided he needed a new villain in the shape of studio guest, Alex Attwood, Minister for the Environment, whose powers are extremely limited. Of course Alex is a fellow member of the SDLP but I think I would be equally annoyed at the way he was treated…..if the Minister had been DUP, Sinn Féin or UUP. Actually I am absolutely certain I would have been equally annoyed because I detest Stephen Nolan much more than any political party…..except of course members of the Alliance Party.
Stephen Nolan does not do reasonable debate. He rarely let Attwood speak. Without a hint of irony, Nolan shook Attwood’s hand at the end of the er interview and thanked him for actually going on his programme.
I hope strong words were exchanged off-air. And I suspect that there will be a de-briefing of sorts at the Department of the Environment Press Office. And quite possibly in the SDLP Press Office.
And possibly in other Press Offices. Really all political parties should take a stand against Nolan and his hectoring and bullying stance. He is probably now the most influential man in BBC Headquarters in Ormeau Avenue. BBC are paying him a fortune. But just how the programme went down with his BBC bosses is interesting. They will publicly fend off criticism of their big star. But I suspect privately that they will point out to their bully boy that his show went beyond acceptable limits.
Just who is saying what at Ormeau Avenue is something I cannot know. Veteran journalist Noel Thompson of the reflective “Hearts and Minds” has been shafted. Stephen Nolan is in the ascendancy.
It is a question for BBC journalists. When Kate Adie, the veteran BBC “war” reporter from BBC in London did her first assignments in Belfast, she could not understand what the Troubles were all about…….until she noticed so few Catholics in the Ormeau Avenue nesroom. In the 1960s and 1970s the BBC was joined at the hip to the unionist regime, and barely tolerated nationalists. In the 1980s and 1990s it went into faux “lets get alongerist” mode. But now post-1998 the boys and girls at the Beeb are not at ease with the new Politics. Thru Nolan……they seem to have made a conscious decision…..to ridicule politics and politicians.