Lovely Linda, protector and friend, used to say “a fan mail flooded in” and we laughed because my public’s loyalty had already proved immeasurable. Fan mail was extra, like some kind of wonderful confectionery after a memorable meal. Though as a fan myself, my admiration is mostly temperate. If you spend your whole life looking at whole persons, you don’t suspend that idea over a pretty face. But recently I have unexpectedly relocated my inner fan.
From time to time, somebody will say to me “But what’s the matter with Donald Trump, I mean, what has the poor man done to be so doubted and disapproved of ?” And there is not much point in saying to such a person that I don’t want to wait until he makes a really wrong ie uncontainable decision. If you subscribe, even in part, to the notion of the US President as the leader of the free world, then you want to know how this is going to work. Is it going to work, and by what means can it be managed ?
Which brings me to 100 Days, now 100 Days Plus because the first 100 days of the Trump presidency is over (BBC Monday to Thursday 7.00 to 7.30, runover on BBC News) I first watched this out of curiosity. There are BBC news presenters I enjoy and others I can’t watch or listen to. Ditto ITV and though I was for a long time a devotee of C4 News, it palled into becoming The John and Cathy Show. C5 is not for me. So I switched on 100 Days and was hooked.
Katty (not a misspelling) Kay is a Washington based commentator, early fifties, blessedly comfortable on lens and mike. Christian Fraser (39) is in London, confident enough to let KK have the floor and take it back again. That they can do what they are paid to do is enough to make me stand up and cheer.
They comment, freely, easily, thoughtfully, linking into interesting guests and more recently, into two stunning brief packages – one about the middle class drug problem in the US which has come out of pain management, the drug companies’ drive for profit and opioid (drugs that mimic opiates) addiction, triggering a bigger public health crisis than crack, and another on a church in Chicago offering sanctuary to people living in the US without papers, who are afraid for their children and themselves.
Contributors to this programme have to know their stuff – it shows if they don’t. Of course, some are better than others but all are from a range not usually offered to me as a viewer, former Presidential advisers, specialist journalists, congressmen and women representing prestigious committees, academics I have never heard of, black and white, left and right. This is the opposite of consensus. This is about informed opinion where all sorts of people may have to agree to disagree. Both presenters use the first person, they talk about what they think, what they know, why, where they got their information and my response is far from the incuriosity I often feel about presenters who bore me with their self consciously gift wrapped neutrality.
And here’s the positively Hollywood plus: screen chemistry.
It is possible that Katty and Christian hate each other. Perhaps they were or are an item. I think it is unlikely they have never met. But nobody can fake what happens on screen, where they work well together. Do I care if their asides are written ? No. They make them sound real. I am quite sure that occasionally one or the other flings off camera muttering “Bloody man (or woman) !” as the case may be but the mixture of professionalism – how long since you heard that word used in praise ? – charm, interest and energy is splendid.
I want it to go on and on. If 100 Days is behind us and we are now enjoying 100 Days Plus, |I look forward to 100 Days x 3 and all the rest. Take false news and put it with reality shows – in the bin. The erosion of middle ground means we so often have to choose between street and university.