Watching BBC Breakfast is like having a trapped nerve. It hurts, however much I might try to alleviate the pain, so there’s nothing I can do but get as comfortable as I possibly can and live with it.
Why do you even bother watching, you might (very reasonably) ask, if it’s such agony. Well, sometimes I run out of patience with the Today programme on Radio 4, my usual morning staple, particularly if my favourite pairing, the Thinking Person’s Chuckle Brothers Justin Webb and Nick Robinson, aren’t on. (I really mean this, I love them!)
Or I could watch Piers Morgan on ITV. But I’d frankly rather knit my own hair into a blanket and hide under it than subject myself to his full-beam obnoxiousness.
So, BBC Breakfast it must be. It’s there, and I watch it. As I’ve touched on in this column during the past few weeks, I prickle like an angry cactus at nuclear levels of inanity, stories about people going to bed with their pets, or skipping dogs. Or, more recently, people tweeting the programme with details of the knots they tie in their shoelaces.
Or, in another particularly nauseating piece of narcissistic flapdoodle, “What would you say in a letter to your younger self?” I would say, “For the love of all things marvellous, Alison, think twice about having that bubble-perm in your late 20s. And don’t, whatever you do, watch BBC Breakfast.” But this item, based on an exhibition, opened the flood-gates for a blizzard of the kind of inspirational blandness usually found as slogans on mugs bearing pictures of cats.
Now, I can hear you saying, “But Alison, the world is such an unpleasant, uncertain and dark place at the moment, what’s wrong with a bit of levity?” Nothing, I suppose, as long as it’s not presented to me in a news programme. I view this kind of nudging jokeyness as I view mawkish tributes of flowers left at roadside “shrines”, as a Disneyfication of real life. A soft-focus distraction, if you like, from proper news and real issues. And who are these people who tweet and email television news programmes? Particularly in the mornings. Who has the time? Honestly, as you’re buttering your toast, would it really occur to you to think, ah yes, I must urgently tweet my thoughts about tying my shoelaces to total strangers? In fact, stop this over-reliance, BBC Breakfast, on flipping social media.
The only excuse as far as I can see for tweeting a news organisation is if you’re being held hostage and need to get a message to the outside world. Though not, obviously, about the type of knot that’s keeping you tied to a radiator. Calling for help would be a good idea.
And there will never be a sufficiently good reason for encouraging those amateur photographers called BBC Weatherwatchers with their coy little nicknames and their pictures of sunsets and snow on cars. Yes, lovely, I know what a sunset looks like, they happen all over the place. And in winter snow lands on cars. Who knew?
This kind of marshmallow malaise is only a comparatively recent BBC Breakfast “innovation”. I remember it as being quite serious, though with a deft, not-too-heavy touch. And I like presenters Charlie Stayt, Louise Minchin and business reporter Steph McGovern.
So please, they mustn’t be left to flail in a vat of faux mateyness. Let the skipping dogs do their thing in the lower reaches of the internet. Get back to doing what you do best. And leave that Twitter feed alone.