If the recent furore over Jeremy Paxman’s beard has taught us anything it’s that appearance can be just as important for politcal interviewers as it is for their subjects. But at least when Paxman unveiled his new facial hair on Newnsight it met with broad approval.
BBC political editor Nick Robinson says he hasn’t always been so lucky, revealing that his trademark spectacles have received harsh public criticism from some quarters.
“At one stage I got hate mail for my glasses,” said Robinson. “You always know when you get that sort of mail at the BBC – it’s written in capitals, sometimes green ink. I opened it and, in crayon, someone had written ‘You should’ve gone to bloody Specsavers!”.
The cruel irony is, Robinson’s glasses were specifically chosen to enhance his image…
“I had interviewed a woman on my first day as a reporter about the importance of appearance for politicians,” he told an audience at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. “Years later she read a piece about me in the papers because I was going head to head with [Sky News political editor] Adam Boulton on 24 hour news doing a general election. One of these little boxes [in the newspaper] said ‘Style’. For Adam it was ‘dress down’ and for me it said ‘head boy’ and she wrote me a note saying ‘See career going well, but head boy? Oh dear – you better come and see me’.”
What happened next deserves a musical movie montage. “She took me on a Pretty Woman shopping trip,” said Robinson, “literally grabbing ties and shirts off the rack, and then she grabbed the glasses and said ‘Boring, bald men – lots of them – break your face up’.”
Of course, just because one harsh critic was unconvinced by the transformation, it doesn’t mean he or she speaks for the nation. To RadioTimes.com’s discerning eye, Robinson’s trendy specs mark him out as a style icon, rather than a laughing stock…
Nick Robinson was promoting his book Live from Downing Street