Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Dressed to distress

I miss Points Of View. I know it's still on, buried somewhere in the Sunday afternoon schedule, but there was a time when it was real must-see TV. 

For those of you too young to remember its heyday, the show gave BBC viewers the chance to write in and vent their spleens about the channels' output. Although Esther Rantzen, Barry Took and Anne Robinson are no longer sitting patiently whilst paid-by-the-hour actors read out a series of irate missives from 'disgusted of Tunbridge Wells', the spirit of the show is alive and well.

But if current presenter Jeremy Vine isn't your cup of tea, you can thank heavens for the Daily Mail, which gives those solitary voices of discontent an alternative forum for sharing their outdated, flat-Earth views of Auntie's programming. The newest controversy to "cause a storm" on the network comes in the form of an inappropriate outfit during BBC One's Countryfile.

But rather than a pair of crotchless knickers on BBC Breakfast, or a low-cut party dress on Songs of Praise, the offending ensemble was a relatively inoffensive sweater and a pair of jeans. On the not entirely unappealing form of Tomasz Schafernaker.

Admittedly, Countryfile is a show aimed at the elderly, infirm and terminally rural. Even so, it's remarkable to think that anyone could be "upset" by the idea of a casually dressed weatherman.

However, viewer Stephen Jones, 35, disagrees. He told reporters (on a slow news day, presumably) "I thought I had tuned into Newsround or Blue Peter for a minute when I saw the main presenter wearing jeans and a jumper. I've heard of having dress-down days before but I didn't think the BBC went in for that. When you are presenting to the nation, especially on the BBC, surely you should look as professional as possible, not like someone who's just come in from off the street."

It's hard to understand how anyone could be offended by a V-neck sweater. He was even wearing a poppy, for Christ's sake. But since we're talking about the Daily Mail here, I'm willing to put my disbelief on hold. 

They love any opportunity to bash the BBC, and run through all of Tomasz's previous run-ins with the powers that be. He accidentally forecast "muddy shite" for Glastonbury, and in 2007 referred to the Outer Hebrides as "nowheresville". Maybe he should be sacked for being accurate - that's not what we expect from our weather forecasters. 

To be fair, weather presenters are notorious for showcasing less personality than an unbranded muesli bar. As his recent 'obscene gesture' showcased, at least Schafernaker has a playful sense of humour. Not to mention a rack that you could dry your dishes on. 

If anyone wants to complain about the BBC, perhaps they should be writing letters of protest about the decision to switch the telegenic Schafernaker to radio. 


  1. just clicked on the Mail article re. tomasz in attitude. i hadn;t seen this before. wow!

    encouragingly though, nearly all the comments after the article were positive. seems like even middle england enjoys something appealing to look at rather than amanda patel's mug all the time!

  2. Superb article, but a bit of hair-splitting though (sorry!). It was Country Tracks he was on, not Countryfile; although they dress casually for both (and BBC Breakfast for that matter).

    However the rest of your article was bang on. They only pick on Tomasz, because they're jealous of him. In the world of Daily Wail being "Polish-born" and "posing for a gay magazine [Attitude]" are cardinal sins as well.

    Ironically, Tomasz wore a suit for all his other broadcasts that day-- and nobody kicked up a stink about Alex Deakin wearing jeans for Countryfile that evening. Or indeed the dizens of other times they have dressed casually for certain weather forecasts.

  3. Thanks for the comment 'Roger' - apologies for the factual inaccuracies!! And cheers for setting me straight.