18 August 2020 04:31
The Trial Of Alex Salmond Call That Hard Work? Rating: BBC2 used to air a current affairs show called Brass Tacks, presented by the likes of David Dimbleby and Brian Trueman. These days the channel could more honestly have a flagship programme called Brass Neck. Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark fronted an hour-long report, The Trial Of Alex Salmond (BBC2), into the court case. Last March the former First Minister of Scotland faced 13 charges of serial sexual assaults, including one allegation of attempted rape.
Kirsty Wark (left) fronted an hour-long report, which examined the sex assault trial of Alex Salmond (right) Salmond was cleared on all counts. But that didn't stop Wark from raking up all the claims and interviewing three of the women who gave evidence. The report ended with an actress reading the words of one: 'I know I was telling the truth. I know what happened to me.' Another grieved: 'I'm worried about what this says more widely to other women, or just to us as a society. I mean, where does this leave us?' Clearly, it leaves us in a situation where a BBC documentary can pour doubt on the findings of a jury that 'fails' to deliver a guilty verdict in a sex case. And it leaves us with a national broadcaster whose double standards are breathtaking. Wark has been with Newsnight since 1993, after all, but as she lamented the damage wreaked by the Salmond trial to the #MeToo movement, she said nothing of the programme's failings over an equally high-profile sex case. Double standard of the night: 'A lot of cooking now is geared towards speed and efficiency,' moaned Jamie Oliver on his Keep Cooking Family Favourites (C4). But who is to blame? Surely not the creator of Jamie's 15 Minute Meals... Advertisement After the death of BBC presenter and DJ Jimmy Savile in 2011, a Newsnight investigation into rumours of his appalling sex crimes was shelved. It was deemed to clash with an adoring obituary and a planned Christmas special of his children's show, Jim'll Fix It. Savile never stood trial and, even after he was dead, some at the Beeb tried to turn a blind eye to his vile activities. Alex Salmond won his court case, and he also scored a victory in an earlier civil suit against the Scottish government, over its handling of the allegations against him. Salmond conceded some of his behaviour towards women was boorish and shameful. But he maintained it fell far short of being criminal — and the jury agreed. Unless the BBC is trying to argue Britain's entire judicial system is unfit for purpose, Kirsty Wark should not be suggesting the trial has done serious damage to women's rights across the country. Instead, she should never lose sight of the fact that Jimmy Savile, a BBC employee, committed foul offences against women and children, sometimes within the BBC's buildings. And the Newsnight report into that was dropped. We were on safer ground with a light-hearted job-swap show, Call That Hard Work? (BBC1), which challenged people in different walks of life to try out each other's daily routines. For the debut episode, we met a bingo caller, a sausage factory supervisor and the head gardener at a stately home. The consensus was that reading the numbers and checking the cards at the Mecca in Hartlepool was the softest option, while shovelling manure and trimming topiary at Brodsworth Hall in South Yorkshire was the most gruelling. Personally, I thought working on the conveyor belt looked the toughest — bundling 350 sausages a minute into plastic packs while standing up for eight hours must be exhausting. This was a variation on the C4 show Come Dine With Me, though better tempered. The sarcasm of the home chefs was replaced by a good-natured appreciation that every job demanded special talents. And bingo calling did look like fun: 'A duck on a crutch. number 27!'