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Larry Ryan

Larry Ryan joined The Independent's website in November 2007. He writes the "Caught in the Net" music column for the paper's Arts & Books section on Friday. He wears thick glasses and talks slowly, traits which people occasionally mistake for signs of intelligence.

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The Jonathan Ross departure is an opportunity for the BBC

Posted by Larry Ryan
  • Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 11:33 am
Earlier today Jonathan Ross tweeted, "Good morning. My day is turning out to be far more interesting then I had anticipated! See you later - have a good one," which seemed fairly innocuous, until an hour later when news broke that he was quitting the BBC after his contract expires in July. This could be seen as a big loss for the BBC, considering Ross' broad appeal and the variety of programmes he does on TV and radio, however, I can't help but see it as an opportunity. 

At a time of financial difficulty for everyone in the media, the BBC have managed to take one of their most expensive stars off their books with relative ease; a slow fade out to the end of a contract rather than some dramatic firing.  As the Daily Mail inflated Sachsgate/Brandgate/Rossgate scandal showed, Ross was one of the more controversial (albeit in the least challenging ways) people on the BBC, and with many in politics and media lining up to take shots at them (which will only get worse if/when the Tories get in), this could slightly ease the pressure - though there never seems to be enough things for the right to bash the BBC about.

But beyond the "inside baseball" inner workings of the BBC, Ross himself - particularly on TV - has long since become far too dull, lazy and self-indulgent. For the first few years of his chat show, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, which began in 2001, his manner was a refreshing and fun counterpoint to the staid chat-show format - especially when interviewing Hollywood stars more used to the well-oiled pr machines of US television. In the last couple of years, though, the programme has been barely watchable; tired opening monologue jokes and "bits", dull love-ins with his London media mates (an interview with David Baddiel in 2008 was a nadir), bland sycophancy with American actors and musicians. Only occasionally did it rise above this level. Since his suspension and neutering over the Sachsgate affair, Ross has only become even more tame, always awkwardly aware that watchdogs were waiting to pounce on any risque slip of the tongue. With Ross gone, the BBC could give the chat-show slot a reboot with a more interesting voice, though I imagine they'll play it safe and go for brand recognition - Graham Norton perhaps?

Where I think the news is good is Ross departure from BBC's Film... with Jonathan Ross series which he began in 1997. Again, Ross started well when he took over the reins of the show from Barry Norman, but this programme, too, has long been moribund: his film criticism has rarely been essential, while the interviews and features tend to be far too reverential. As long as the BBC don't now dump the programme, perhaps they could revert back to the Barry Norman era, picking a presenter who views film criticism as their main gig, not a side-project. Mark Kermode would be the obvious choice - saving him from those awkward film segments on the Culture Show: he is a skilled film reviewer and at this stage has surely been around long enough for a mainstream audience to recognise him, especially considering the mainstream audience that watches a film review programme at a quarter to twelve on a week night is hardly huge.

Comments

Bye Bye Wossie
oldgiffer wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 12:36 pm (UTC)
Well past his sell by date and his departure will not be a day too soon. Self opinionated, banal, childish and overpaid he captured the Zeitgeist of the 90's all style and no substance. I wonder if anyone will value his "talents" as much as the BBC has done in the past? - I doubt it. As for his chat with Baddiel, excruciating mutual sycophancy.

I imagine that the young Turks at the Beeb are now desperately trawling the depths to find a similarly useless and irritating replacement for Floppy Wossie.
Re: Bye Bye Wossie
francetta wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 02:34 pm (UTC)
How about Michael McIntyre for instance,there are many talents waiting in the wings, its up to the beeb to seek them out.
Re: Bye Bye Wossie
paul999 wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 03:12 pm (UTC)
Happy to see Ross go but McIntyre - please. His annoying puppy dog antics are already wearing very thin.
Re: Bye Bye Wossie
oldgiffer wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 04:20 pm (UTC)
Far too witty and perceptive I imagine - how about a Russel Bland rehab?
janey_dubray wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 02:41 pm (UTC)
Yay!

My great fear was that he'd have been selected to front the morning show when TW left. Imagine my relief when they chose Evans ...

We stopped watching the Beeb's film reviews when Woss took over from Norman - Kermode from what I have seen of him on BBC News looks to be a more than fitting replacement.
Ross loss
tony_wickham wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 02:57 pm (UTC)
How long the winter Friday evenings will seem without watching Jonathan fawn at the feet of celebrities during their promotional tours.

Looking on the positive front, we should all be able to save about a fiver a year each on our TV licence.
Onan the barbarian.
ron_broxted wrote:
Thursday, 7 January 2010 at 03:59 pm (UTC)
Ross was so far up Hollywoods ass he could pass for a colon. Faux American homage.
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