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Claudia Winkleman to Host Film 2010; Darren to Lose Faith in Humanity…

Claudia Winkleman? Claudia Winkleman? Claudia freakin’ Winkleman?

Okay, so I didn't have a picture of Winkleman handy...

Film used to be an institution. Okay, it was like Film ’87 or Film ’93, but I’m talking about the collective run. It was the film flagshow of the BBC, easily one of the best broadcasters in the world. Without meaning to denigrate Irish television, we just couldn’t compete – we’ve never had anything as good or as interesting on film, which is strange, given what a major fixture the local cinema is in smalltown Ireland. We had a reasonably decent one with Dave ‘rapid-fire-delivery, yeah-yeah-yeah’ Fanning back when I was a wee lad, but I remember that fading very quickly. But I digress.

Barry Norman was always my host. As wise of matters of film as he was on matters of cricket (this is the BBC, after all), Norman was like everyone’s very cultured grandfather. I won’t pretend he was a British Roger Ebert or anything so vulgar, but he knew damn well what he was talking about and still does. When the Guardian needed a commentator on Uma Thurman’s latest flop last week, they went to Barry.

Of course, Norman would eventually hang up his spurs and the BBC set out to find a replacement. And they took a different approach. Rather than choosing a distinguished elder statesman of British criticism, they picked Jonathan Ross. Rossy, as he is affectionately known. Nobody would ever have called Norman ‘Normy’, so he was already a different type of animal. Ross was a geek and a nerd rather than a distinguished academic. He maintained Norman’s welcome populism (this was teh most watched film show in Britain), but brought with him his own areas of expertise. He’s an expert in Asian cinema and geek culture. His wife wrote the movie adaptation of Kick-Ass, and he has written for comic books himself.

Ross was already a British institution for his chatshow Friday Night With Jonathan Ross, but he wasn’t a featherweight to film. He was a crasser choice than the relatively stoic and dignified Norman – very much a modern man, rather than a cricket-lover. Of course, his crass sense of humour would eventually lead to his departure, but Ross was certainly up to the task of hosting the UK’s flagship film show.

So, when the time came to hang up his spurs, there was much speculation on who would replace him. Big names were thrown into the ring. Mark Kermode was the favourite. Just indie enough to be taken seriously, but populist enough to host a national television show, Kermode seemed the natural choice. He’d been plying his trade as a critic around the UK’s more fringe television channels and newspapers, slowly working his way into the core of British pop consciousness. He was a regular pundit on anything film related. He loved high art and low trash equally. There had even been rumours that he would succeed Norman, though they had come to nothing.

Even ignoring Kermode, there are dozens of great film critics and journalists just waiting for an opportunity to take the reigns of the show. And all seem infinitely better choices than the one the BBC ultimately went with.

Claudia Winkleman. I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but her most high profile assignment at the BBC has been hosting the follow-up to Strictly Come Dancing (queue that incredibly irritating music sting, like anybody does when they say those words on the BBC). Those looking for a demonstartion of her film-related skills need look no further than Sky One’s Oscar coverage, populated as it was with banal self-promoting idiots with no idea what the hell was going on. You know your awards show coverage is going poorly when your in-house movie critic predicts less correct winners than David freakin’ Badiel, who is only on promoting his own movie. But I digress.

Winkleman was the embodiment of banal. Seriously. I’m sure she’s a very interesting person and I don’t doubt that she probably has it in her to be a good filmshow host. But not now. She needs more time to develop skills. I don’t doubt she’ll handle an interview with Denzel Washington or Bruce Willis, but can anyone see her holding her own with Lars Von Trier, for example, or Terry Gilliam?

Norman and Ross both had light touches, remaining men of the people in their position as the nation’s critic elect. Winkleman takes the populism just a little bit too far, screaming of the Lowest Common Denominator. For all their charm and ability to appeal to the common man, Norman and Ross were experts. I enjoyed listening to them chat about the latest steve Martin comedy, but I never doubted they could just as easily be debating classic German cinema. In contrast, Winkleman isn’t lightweight – she’s featherweight.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope I am. Maybe she’s a secret Sonny Chiba fan. Or maybe she collects the Criteron Collection DVD’s. Maybe she is just a little more interesting that the vacuous soundbytes and previous experiences would leave me to believe. I hope I am wrong, I do. But somehow I don’t believe I am.

12 Responses

  1. I’ll tell you this much…I won’t be watching.

    I have nothing against Claudia, she’s just not right. And it’s not a gender thing…Anne Bilson would have been great!

  2. I agree with Niall. I doubt very much that she’s a film expert. Surely, there were other better choices?

    • I’m with both of you on this. I want to be proven wrong, but I have a sneaking suspicion it will descend into brainless and mindless chatter focusing on the would-be stars (Brad and Angelina – oooh nooo!) of the day rather than on the movies themselves.

  3. Yeah I was thrilled to hear Kermode was pencilled in but he modestly dismissed it as a rumour. Shame.

  4. I think this seems a poor choic. I wasn’t completely sold on Wossy either. He knew a bit about cinema but was always compromised by the double up being done for Film 2010 and his talk-show, the stars get on the talk show he gets a Film 2010 interview. I can’t remember him being anything but complimentary of a film where he had a related guest on the talk show.

    Kermode couldn’t have got the role.He’s been painting himself into a corner over the last few years and whilst his honesty is refreshing he’d either have had to compromise himself substantially or be content that he just wouldn’t get interviews with all the relevant people others might.

  5. This sounds like when Ben Lyons took over At the Movies.

  6. I just can’t watch her because of her face. Her fringe is ALWAYS in her eyes and it upsets me

    • She also just seems… fake. Not in an insincere or ungenuine sort of way – I’m sure she’s lovely – but that she’s wearing copious amounts of makeup or fake tan (even by the standards of the industry) and may melt under those spot lights.

  7. Claudia Winkleman does a good job on Film. She clearly watches the movies she reviews, and gives a good articulate and measured review every time. Also I wouldn’t kick her out of bed I would much rather look at Claudia (Gods Gift) Winkleman with her dark complexion and sexy legs than wossy with his outrageous fee’s endless butt-kissing and annoying speech impediment.

    • Well, doctors differ and patients die, but I liked Rossy’s charm and the fact he was an unabashed geek – “one of us” as they say, right?

  8. Claudia is doing a grand job!

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