I received an e-mail from a reader of this blog and I’d like to address it publicly. Centring around my Strictly Come Dancing special’s summation of John Barnes, it reads as follows:
"Well after reading your review of the clelebrity contestants of this years come dancing. I have admit to being slightly disappointed and dishearted that out of the 16 contestants, John Barnes the only black contestant gets the only negative review. "If he dances as well as he presents, he’ll be out in the first week". With the lack of black roles models on uk TV why did you feel the urge to focus on negatives when Mr John Barnes as done so much to promote a positive image for black males. Why oh why oh why did you not do, what you did for say Willie Thorne or Gethin Jones and just write a few simple facts about the man instead of feeling the need to slate him.
Here’s what I said about John Barnes: "Hugely successful as a footballer, the former England international is now a TV presenter for Channel Five. If he dances as well as he presents, he’ll be out in the first week. That analogy also applies to his rapping (remember Liverpool FC’s Anfield Rap? Or New Order’s World In Motion?)."
Disappointed MSN reader, thank you for your e-mail; I appreciate all feedback. I’ll have to disappoint you again because I stand by every word. And in addition, I am unrepentant. I took pains to first state the obvious: John Barnes was a hugely successful footballer, for club and country. As an Arsenal fan, a black one at that, I know how influential he was in terms of being a positive role model for black people. I saw him maintain his dignity as he stepped away from bananas thrown at him on the pitch week in, week out – incredibly, some by supporters of the very club he played for. I even have a grudging admiration for his remarkable goal against Brazil in 1984 (he collected the ball at the halfway line and beat five Brazilian defenders). In terms of football, there’s no questioning his talent and integrity.
But in my humble opinion (and excuse the Football League analogy), he’s in the Football Conference when it comes to TV presenting – he’s bloomin’ awful! Slamming your tongue in a door is less painful than watching him emote robot-like about footy on Five. But if it makes you feel any better Disappointed MSN reader, the following are also useless: Jack Charlton, Alan Shearer, Ron Atkinson, Andy Townsend (whoever dreamt up his minging ‘Tactics Van’ should have every single hair pulled from their body with pliers), Ally McCoist, Mark Lawrenson, Garth Crooks, Ian Wright (awful pundit – great TV personality) and the man I reserve all my bile for…Clive ‘that magical night in Barcelona’ Tyldesley. What a – well, I’ll leave you to guess.
I’ve never been shy about stating my opinion about anyone on TV – black or white as you’ll see if you peruse my list of TV’s Most Annoying. I calls ’em as I sees ’em – regardless of colour.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – A new series of South Park has just started on the Paramount Comedy Channel. Wh-hoo!
Today I am mostly hatin’ – After all that hype, Virgin 1 is a bit of a letdown.
MSN Editor Coops