Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Michael Vestey

Long-time Spectator radio critic Michael Vestey died last week. From his obituary in the Telegraph:
Vestey espoused increasingly Right-wing views. In private, and in his column, he reserved his sharpest vitriol for the BBC, and what he viewed as its descent into mediocrity.
One of the good guys, then.

Update. September 1. Rod Liddle on Vestey in this week's Spectator:
...he had worked for the corporation for more than a quarter of a century and had come, in an almost affectionate way, to utterly and completely loathe it. I don’t mean that he loathed everything the BBC produced, or everybody who worked for the institution; he had untrammelled respect for the reporter out in the field, the producer crafting a programme and so on. No, he loathed what he saw as its corporate stupidity, its inverted pyramid of talentless middle managers and ever expanding legion of deathly accountants, its flaccid, thoughtless, self-flagellating, institutionalised left-liberalism, its craven attitude towards political authority and concomitant arrogance towards the people who paid the licence fee, i.e. the listeners. And he wrote about this in The Spectator every week for the ten years after he left the BBC, aggrieved and weary, until his untimely death at 61 last weekend. In return, you have to say, the BBC loathed him too.
The whole piece is available subscription-free in the comments at Biased BBC thanks to commenter SiN.

(Re The Spectator. I agree with the comments here - it's a five-minute read nowadays. D'Ancona's choice of replacement for Vestey will be interesting.)


Anonymous La Boheme said...

I didn't know he had died. I enjoyed reading his radio reviews.

11:50 pm  
Anonymous Ernesto Ribeiro said...

Jihadists voices from Hell (Islamic world) are the most popular... so, the muslim peoples themselves (Sunni and Shiite alike) is so 'moderate' as their 'heroes' and idols...

Nelson Ascher:

Leftists intellectuals (Chomsky, Hobsbawn, Vidal, Sontag) 'translate' Jihad statements:

When Bin Laden launches war on "jews, crusaders, christians", his words are translated as 'zionists, conservatives, capitalists'.

When a clerig makes sure "homossexuals, adulteress females, no-beard men and no-veil women deserves die by stoning", the unique interpretation to his sermon is 'a metaforic-metaphysic attack against Hollywood and George Bush'.

And that classic sentence which the Afgan mujaheedin Maulana Inyadullah said to a reporter "Americans like movies and Pepsi-Cola, but we really like death." means 'Proletarians worldwide, unite you!'

Nelson Ascher is a conservative Brazilian journalist, essayist and poet.

1:09 am  
Blogger permanentexpat said...

What in hell was that?

1:49 am  
Blogger Rastaman said...

That was a Hispanic blogger promoting his blog outrageously anywhere and everywhere including mine. I do wish he would stick to the topic but he never does. He just posts his stuff willy-nilly wherever he happens to land.

I didn't know of Mr. Vester but I agree that any voice critical of the BBC is a sad loss.


8:36 am  
Blogger TheCatInTheAdage said...

I used to enjoy Michael Vestey's radio column in the Spectator - his inside knowledge of the BBC (for which he worked for many years) made his observations about the decline of that institution particularly sharply focused.

His views may have become increasingly right-wing but the BBC's certainly became increasingly left-wing: so much so that it is difficult to imagine their employing someone like Vestey now.

I doubt whether even the Spectator would take on Vestey now, which is why many of us have let our subscriptions lapse and rely entirely on the blogosphere for informed comment on the right and critical scrutiny of the mainstream media

9:39 am  
Blogger permanentexpat said...

Yep............I think that I, too, have made my last subscription to The Spectator. Apart from the cartoons (which are also getting no better) it makes for narcissistic reading. Unfortunately, some blogs, I am thinking of Samizdata in particular, while erudite, are developing as mutual admiration societies for a few arrogant contributors.

1:30 pm  
Anonymous Verity said...

Re The Speccie, I used to live for Thursdays. I couldn't wait to see what they'd got for us, and to get stuck into it. Now, I don't even bother visiting the site on Thursdays (I forget). Sometimes I go at the weekend, for the free content (I wouldn't dream of paying), but it's so difficult to navigate and you never know what's free and what's going to be chopped off after three paragraphs.

Except for Charles Moore, the writers are desperately boring. D'Aconda is a good writer, but he is such a turgid leftie. They should have chosen Quentin Letts, who was in the running. He's witty, he loves other people's sense of humour, he has a light touch, he's gossipy (as befitting a Parliamentary Sketchwriter) and, frankly, an all-round good egg. D'Ancona is pretty grim. Boris Johnson is so boring I can't get beyond two paragraphs without wandering off with the fairies.

I don't think the Speccie has ever run a funny cartoon. Ever. Not one. And Petronella Wyatt is a wittering, pointless bore. Does anyone read her? If so, what are they finding in her writing that I have so signally missed these past five years? Even years ago, I never finished one of her columns. Now I don't even start.

2:29 pm  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Petronella Wyatt hasn't written for some time.

Deborah Ross's restaurant reviews are always worth a read.

Jeremy Clarke's column always makes me laugh.

However, I do not like the descent into "airline magazine" that has happened since D'Ancona took over - all this "you've earned it" rubbish - aimed at whom exactly?

If I want to read about Sarah sodding Standing's hols in The Hamptons, Martha Kearney's thoughts on bee keeping, and where to buy Egyptian cotton sheets I'll buy Good Housekeeping.

3:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to have a online subscription when Steyn and Dalrymple wrote for it but like others I let it lapse after the Barclays arrived.

Every week the web site would show the most visited articles from the current mag and the archive and every week Mark Steyn would be in the top ten (as it were). I could understand the owners taking no notice when the online version was free (you listen to your paying customers after all) but not when subscriptions were introduced for much of the mag and all the archive. Yet the magazine let Steyn go!

A very odd way to run a business that undervalues your biggest draw.

4:20 pm  
Anonymous Verity said...

Petronella not writing for it any more? I didn't notice. Well that will free some time for her eternal quest of looking for a husband - anyone's.

I think the Barclays are full of class hate. They hate Conrad Black and anyone associated with him. Give me the robust intelligence and civilised writing of Black, Steyn, Dalrylmple and Barbara Amiel (an outstanding writer)any day if you want me to pay for a subscription.

As I don't live in Britain, I don't have a scintilla of interest in restaurant reviews - except AA Gill's, which are always terribly funny. But he doesn't write for the Spectator. There is actually nothing I would pay for in today's Speccie. It started its decline under the egotistical, "look at me, everyone!" Boris Johnson and I think is on its way to oblivion under the dreary Matthew D'Ancona.

For the first time in my adult life, I forget that it's Thursday and there'll be a new Speccie out.

5:04 pm  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

Deborah Ross is also very funny.

The book reviews are (thank goodness) still informative and interesting.

Share your views of the Barclays.

If it's not being too nosey Verity - where do you live? In Europe?

5:32 pm  
Anonymous La Boheme said...

He should get Gillian Reynolds to replace Vestey.

10:49 am  
Anonymous johnse18 said...

Vestey was one of the small and dwindling number of reasons for still reading the Spectator.

I agree Gillian Reynolds would be an excellent choice to replace him. Failing that, Rod Liddle (whose piece on Vestey was excellent), though often irritating, would at least have the advantage of fairly recent inside knowledge on BBC Radio, so would know how best to put the boot in.

I read somewhere (I think in the IoS) that Letts was actually their first choice for editor but turned it down. Second choice was some guy at the Economist whose name escapes me and also turned it down. D'Ancona finally got it as third choice.

Are there any decent right-of-centre UK weeklies any more? The Spectator now is just like a teenagers' comic compared with US counterparts such as City Journal and the New Criterion.

3:20 pm  

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