Monday 2 January 2023

A small eternity with Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver was made guest editor of the Today programme over Christmas, as if the BBC didn't already give him a loud enough megaphone. I listened to all three hours so you don't have to, and wrote about it for the Spectator.

There are many annoying things about the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, but none of them grates my gears as much as the media’s obsequiousness towards him. I suspect that his political campaigning is largely a self-serving gimmick to keep the Jamie Oliver brand in the public eye, but that is besides the point. The point is that he would be the first to describe himself an activist and yet he is never asked the questions that activists, let alone politicians, are asked. He gets the celebrity interview when he should be getting the political interview. He has never been hauled up on the facts. He has never been given a grilling. Hardened journalists become starstruck in the presence of a man who, in media circles if not in the country at large, is regarded as a national treasure.

Oliver has had such an easy ride from the BBC over the years that it was not much of a stretch to make him guest editor of the Today programme on Tuesday. The servility was no different from usual, it was just more concentrated. Three long hours of unfiltered Jamie Oliver lightened only by occasional stories about Covid-19 in China and snowstorms in the USA. For the duration, Radio 4’s news bulletins carried no fewer than three Oliver-related news items. Jamie Oliver wants free school meals extended! A pressure group wants mandatory limits on the sugar content of baby food! George Osborne wishes the government would hurry up and ban adverts for ‘junk food’! It was like normal episode of the Today programme but more so.

The rest is here.

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