All the good non-fiction that was ever on TV was made by middle-aged men

The rough, simple and cheerily thick lifeguards of Bondi Rescue. Image: Mojo Down Under
The rough, simple and cheerily thick lifeguards of Bondi Rescue. Image: Mojo Down Under

But the BBC has decided the era of the middle-aged male presenter is over, which is why the only thing I can bear to watch is Bondi Rescue.

All the good non-fiction things that were ever on TV — from Kenneth Clark’s Civilisation to David Attenborough’s Planet Earth(the bits where he’s not proselytising about climate doom, I mean), from Andrew Graham-Dixon’s arty jaunts to Italy to Jonathan Meades’s bizarro forays into architecture, from The World at War to all those more recent war porn documentaries narrated by Sam West, from Werner Herzog’s Little Dieter Needs To Fly to Louis Theroux doing a number on Jimmy Savile — have one thing in common: they were all made by middle-aged men.

Middle-aged men are the business. They’re comfortable in their skin; they’ve got hinterland and character; they’ve put in the hard yards and the long hours getting to know their stuff in that obsessive way only men really do; they’ve replaced the glibness and flashiness and irritating bumptiousness of youth with sly wit and bruised wisdom; they’ve mastered their craft, they know their shit — and now they’re giving the rest of us the benefit of their expertise, as middle-aged men have been doing since time immemorial.

But not any more, apparently.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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