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Why people need to stop photobombing the news

“Get out of the way, you bloody fools, you witless wastes of space. MOVE!”

Published: Tuesday, 19th July 2016 at 1:18 pm

I am a gentle soul, not quick to temper unless my ire is aroused by cyclists riding on pavements, or I’m kept waiting at the till by shop assistants as they fold jumpers. What are they doing with them, woolly origami?


But since the EU Referendum result I’ve hopped around the living room, shrieking at the telly: “Get out of the way, you bloody fools, you witless wastes of space. MOVE!” Surely it’s not beyond the wit of any government (although, on the other hand...) to introduce a by-law along the lines of “If there’s a TV crew filming MPs, members of the public must not shuffle into the back of the shot and wave at the camera.”

I know this has always happened – jubilant football supporters always crowd around the reporter doing pieces to camera, that’s fair enough, it’s sheer joie de vivre and there’s nothing wrong with it. But really, Mr and Mrs Yellow Anoraks on the tourist trail at the Houses of Parliament, what do you think you’re doing? Carving yourselves into posterity as Clive Myrie or the indefatigable Laura Kuenssberg conducts an interview?

The weekend after the result was the worst. I spent most of that Sunday parked in front of the BBC News channel, watching, both distracted and fascinated by the seemingly endless strolling conga of men and women (and we really are talking about proper grown-ups here, people who should know better) gurning and waving at the camera.

One particularly persistent couple – the cameraman clearly tried to edge them out of shot, with no success – shuffled somewhere around Myrie’s left shoulder, waving, smiling and nudging each other. Then one of them made a phone call, clearly to someone back home to tell him or her: ‘Hey, switch on the telly, we’re here, waving and smiling at an audience of completely baffled total strangers for reasons we can’t articulate.”

Again, yes, I know people have always done this, but it’s so much more noticeable because in recent weeks there’s been so much more open-air chat, what with the Brexit result, the Labour Party’s convulsions and the Conservative leadership/prime minster ballots.

But really, just stop it. I beg everyone (not you, I know you are sensible and don’t need to be told), if you see a politician being interviewed by a television journalist and crew in the street, just put your head down and stroll right past. Make no eye contact and, for the love of heaven, don’t wave. You’re a grown-up, act like one.

My heart fell hard when I heard that Caroline Aherne had died
of cancer aged just 52. What
a criminal, cruel waste, and so much more unbearable because, after Victoria Wood, we’ve now lost yet another clever, perceptive, funny woman.

The tragedy is, of course, felt most keenly by Caroline’s (I can’t call her “Aherne”, I just can’t) family and loved ones. They must feel wretched. Her loss is entirely personal to them.

But, though I’m loath to be seen to be grabbing a bit of the sadness, I cannot let her go unremarked upon. I knew her slightly, a long, long time ago. She was charming and sweet and she loved to chat about telly. It’s uncommon to find someone who works in television who actually watches let alone enthuses about it, but Caroline was a fan.

I still treasure the memories of an RT Covers Party, years ago, when Caroline, Barbara Windsor and I sat on a windowsill and nattered about this and that. Caroline was always interested in what people thought about everything, and she valued the opinions of others.


Sometimes she’d drive me mad.
I interviewed her once about a Royle Family Christmas Special and she refused to tell me anything about it. Yet we still had a huge laugh. Caroline was funny, but she was deeply serious about her work and insisted on no pre-publicity or preview tapes for anything she was involved in. I’d dismiss that as vanity in anyone else. But not with her.


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