I don't think it's unfair or misplaced to label the One Show as whimsical television. It's on at seven o'clock in the evening which immediately restricts its editorial content to soft and unthreatening matters. Even the 'harder-hitting' pieces are so constrained by time and water-shed rules that they barely cause a ripple on our sofas. It's not a bad programme by any means; just a bit 'Disney-Club' for adults.
At what point, then, did it become an appropriate forum in which to ask Jeremy Clarkson about his views on the Public Sector strikes? Irrespective of whether his remarks were in bad taste, the simple act of asking the question deviated so heinously from the One Show's magnolia-inspired modus operandi that a more poorly thought out line of solicitation would have been harder to find. Giving Andrew Sach's phone number to Russell Brand would have been more sensible.
I'm not going to make a case either way about the rights and wrongs of Clarkson's riposte; you either agree vehemently, disagree vehemently or don't care. Nothing I say here will change your mind. But the impending Tweet based explosion and subsequent tsunami of complaints was only ever going to be the outcome of such a fools endeavour. And because the media has been so focussed on hounding Mr C., an important statement has yet to be made.
One Show...what were you bloody well thinking?
Everything that happened; every complaint and every negative piece of press was because this TV equivalent of my favourite slippers broke format. They strayed away from their cosy supper-time cottage and wandered blindly in to the gladiatorial amphitheatre of Question Time. Except, unlike Question Time, they didn't have the skills, mechanics, counter-balancing expert view points or diverse audience demographic to carry it off. If they did, Clarkson's comment would have met by a sharp gasp followed by a deluge of fervent reaction. And Clarkson, being Clarkson, would have thrown a decent fight right back. In the able hands of experienced ring-master David Dimbleby, it would have been a well orchestrated exchange of words with all opinions, no matter how extreme, countered immediately by members of Unison, a couple of back-bench politicians and a male nurse from Wigan plucked from the audience who never thought his day would end locked in debate with a Top Gear presenter. And by the end of the show, when all the noise and brouhaha had subsided, I'm sure 31,000 people wouldn't have felt compelled to complain.
But that's Question Time. On the One Show, however, none of the above could happen. It's simply not within the limited capacity of the show which is why the line should never have been crossed in the first place, especially with a man who couldn't care less about public or media reprisal. It was clumsy, ill-conceived and had all the sense of pouring a bucket of petrol over the kitchen hob. And if there's one thing the One Show does not condone it's emptying a receptacle of flammable liquid on to your cooker. If you've ever been affected by these issues then please call...
Watch the clip again on YouTube. Bar poor old Alex who appeared unwittingly caught up in the whole charade and Matt Baker who probably wished he hadn't listened to the producer, there was a lot of laughter in the studio followed by a palpable unease. And on the set of I've Got News For You that probably would have been fine. But on the One Show, it was the sound of the wolf blowing the house down.
Before executing the pig in front us all.