It can’t have been good news for Piers Morgan that in the week CNN chose to debut his new show ‘Piers Morgan Tonight’, another Brit, comedian Ricky Gervais tanked horribly and very publically at the Golden Globes.
Whatever the faults and foibles of tinsel town, whatever the vulgarities idiosyncrasies and sheer egotism, Gervais’ descent into the gutter clearly outraged many who were there – and they can’t all have been suffering from a sense of humour failure. Welcome then to below the belt, needlessly vicious, British humour. Sure it doesn’t have us all rolling in the aisles here, but as with our tabloids and low grade political class, this is the common language of dumbed down Britain.
Which brings me back to Piers Morgan, who like Ricky Gervais, has somehow become a national figure without any of us really quite understanding why, although we may know how. Depending on your point of view – and I read reviews on both sides of the Atlantic, Morgan either largely rose to the occasion during his interview with Oprah Winfrey (the British press), or was in awe of her, generally sucked up to her and looked more like a supplicant than an interviewer (much of the US press). Few though it worthy of comment that interviewer interviewed interviewer, for there was more interest in Oprah's moment, onion in hand, when she came over all tearful.
Either way, Gervais and Morgan are probably the two most visible Brits in America at the moment – although a real class act, actor Colin Firth, is hopefully on his way. Gervais’ stumblebum role in the UK version of ‘The Office’ was fantastic, so good in fact that the show concept made it across the Atlantic swapping Slough for Scranton. But the Gervais of today is boorish and offensive. Morgan still remains a newspaper editor that many Britons have actually heard of, although he was, and is, obsessed with celebrity trivia. Such an obsession may not serve him well over at CNN, where the rumours are that he has a year to prove himself – otherwise Nancy Grace takes over the hot slot vacated by Larry King. And just how easy can it be when the channel that has hired you is in deep trouble? Just for the record, more people now watch the specialist Bloomberg TV in Europe than CNN.
But Morgan has been adept over the years at leaping out of the way of speeding trains just in the nick of time. He would like everyone to believe that for instance he was cleared of ‘insider trading’ while editor of the Daily Mirror, when in fact the Department of Trade & Industry said that it was unable to prosecute him “on the evidence currently available”. He was sacked as Editor of the Daily Mirror having published fake pictures of Iraqis being abused by British soldiers – pictures incidentally that were incendiary across the Middle East. This – as the current issue of Private Eye reports – is another contested incident, but the Daily Mirror itself admitted that the pictures “were not genuine”.
Piers Morgan is a more serious Brit export than Ricky Gervais, and largely because he has stepped into the shoes of Larry King and will appear on TV screens at least once a week. A man of undoubted ability, a man capable of generating publicity without really ever trying, Morgan remains however something of a fantasist, someone capable of simply making things up. This was a trait he shared with Tony Blair, who he periodically used to throw ten pound notes at “to help with party funds”. But he was too much even for the celebrity loving Blair who referred to him as a “slug”.
These then are the Brit trail blazers, our gifts to you. They say a great deal about Britain today, the soulless, empty, immoral and dumbed down place we still call home.
Sorry, but this was the best we could come up with.