JAN MOIR: How COULD Channel 4 abandon their dying presenter?

JAN MOIR: People are keen on grandiose acts of solidarity – until individual loss is involved… How COULD Channel 4 abandon their dying presenter so callously?

Everyone is so very compassionate and caring, aren’t they? Until their public stance becomes a personal sacrifice, then suddenly they aren’t quite so concerned any more.

Look at the idiot English football team, whose captain promised to wear a OneLove rainbow armband as a stand against intolerance of homosexuality in Qatar, but dropped the idea when Fifa threatened to punish him and several other European team captains for doing so.

Told they would face a yellow card for displaying support for the persecuted LGBTQ community, the armbands came off quicker than a Pigalle stripper’s bloomers. Then the England squad ‘took the knee’ instead, a hollow gesture that means nothing while honouring no one — except themselves.

When A Place In The Sun host Jonnie Irwin (pictured) told C4 he had a terminal cancer diagnosis, they promptly axed him from the show by failing to renew his contract

And if Fifa say anything, Harry Kane and his teammates can always pretend they are just doing up their laces. Nothing to see here, mate! Let’s get on with the game, shall we?

On Monday Harry took one for the team by wearing a £500,000 Rolex rainbow watch to arrive at the stadium, so humbling — and brave.

It just underlines the fact that celebrities and sports stars are very keen on these grandiose acts of charitable solidarity and support — until some element of individual loss is involved. Then it’s every fraud for himself.

Look at climate-change hypocrites. They can still take private jets while you must cut back on fossil-fuel consumption and cancel your annual holiday abroad.

Look at collecting money for good causes. They run non-profit organisations and charities, funded by donations from you, yet still manage to pay themselves handsome salaries. I’ve never understood how that works.

And, of course, organisations can be just as hypocritical as individuals.

C4’s excuse was that they could not get insurance for him to travel abroad — or should that be they could not get insurance for him at a price they were willing to pay? Instead of extending a duty of care towards Irwin — or even a helping hand or a shred of humanity or compassion — he was dropped

Channel 4 has always prided itself on being woke, diverse and even kind, the sort of broadcaster that looks out for the little guy, speaks up for minorities and offers a different world view. They even have an annual alternative Christmas message.

Over the years, Doreen and Neville Lawrence, Iran’s hated president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and CIA whistleblower Edward Snowden have all preached sermons on tolerance and spiritual enlightenment along with seasonal greetings.

But this generosity and largesse does not extend to the terminally ill — especially if they happen to be on the C4 payroll.

When A Place In The Sun host Jonnie Irwin (pictured) told C4 he had a terminal cancer diagnosis, they promptly axed him from the show by failing to renew his contract. C4’s excuse was that they could not get insurance for him to travel abroad — or should that be they could not get insurance for him at a price they were willing to pay? Instead of extending a duty of care towards Irwin — or even a helping hand or a shred of humanity or compassion — he was dropped.

‘Within two weeks someone else was on TV doing my job. I just feel I earned a bit more from them after 18 years. That was my first job in TV and it was special to me,’ he said, adding that not being able to provide for his family had ‘affected my mental health’.

I’m sure it did. At the lowest point in his life, when he was counting on support from his employers, Irwin deserved better.

In the summer of 2020, the 49-year-old was given just six months to live when he was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer, which has spread to his brain.

At first he didn’t want to tell anyone, but so many Twitter users commented on his increasingly gaunt onscreen appearance — so caring of them! — that he had to reveal the truth. After sharing his diagnosis with show bosses, his contract was not renewed, with Irwin admitting the decision ‘broke my heart.’

He also presents Escape To The Country for the BBC, and has continued filming for them since his diagnosis.

One can see that this put Channel 4 in a predicament. How could Irwin travel abroad in his extremely vulnerable condition, in the middle of the Covid epidemic? That is understandable.

Yet surely there were better ways of managing the situation than this brutal farewell. The long-running programme makes a small fortune for the channel, in terms of advertising revenue. The show is made by a company called Freeform Productions, which distributes it globally.

At first he didn’t want to tell anyone, but so many Twitter users commented on his increasingly gaunt onscreen appearance — so caring of them! — that he had to reveal the truth. After sharing his diagnosis with show bosses, his contract was not renewed, with Irwin admitting the decision ‘broke my heart’

‘We, of course, understand how frustrating this must be for him at this incredibly difficult time,’ they said in a statement yesterday, no doubt pulling on their armbands of sympathy as they did so. Did no one at C4 or Freeform think of doing the right thing by financially compensating their stricken presenter?

Perhaps supplying him with a little peace of mind during his last months on earth, assuring him that, come what may, his family would be looked after and compensated? Is that too much to ask for, after nearly 20 years of service?

Jonnie Irwin knows this will be the last Christmas he spends with his young family. He tortures himself with the thought that his toddler children will not remember him when they grow up. The last thing he wants to do is spend all this precious time in giving interviews in television studios and to the Press, explaining his desperate situation to anyone who will listen, exposing himself and the brutal progression of his illness to the world.

Yet he is not doing it for himself — he is doing it for his family. And it is a disgrace that he has been put in this position.

Let us hope his callous employers, after this public shaming, find it in their hearts to do the right thing.

The Balenciaga advert is the latest affront from the fashion world. In a bid to promote its overpriced accessories, the firm’s new campaign features a sad child clutching a teddy inexplicably wearing a sado-masochistic bondage harness.

But what can we expect from the freaks who run fashion? Over the years they have repeatedly shown that in the desperate rush to be edgy, they have lost sight of what is — and is not — appropriate.

The first rule of love — don’t mess with Taylor

Taylor Swift has been nominated for a Song of the Year award for her All Too Well (Ten Minute Version). ‘It’s momentous and surreal,’ said the 32-year-old singer.

It certainly is! The epic song is aimed at her ex-lover, Jake Gyllenhaal, whom she dated in 2010. The actor gets the excoriating Taylor treatment in verse after verse — despite dating her for only three months. I almost feel sorry for the poor bloke. ‘I’ll get older but your lovers stay my age,’ she sings in verse six (six!).

Gyllenhaal, 41, was photographed with new French girlfriend Jeanne Cadieu (aged 26) this week. So Taylor was right about one thing. Actually, she’s right about everything.

Congrats on the Grammys, girlfriend.

Excuse my French, Your Majesty, but we could all do with a history lesson 

King Charles held his first state banquet as monarch, a dinner in honour of South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa. The King made a hand-wringing speech about the embarrassments of the past, saying: ‘Elements of history provoke profound sorrow.’ It was a signal that his monarchy will tackle the legacy of colonialism and ‘acknowledge wrongs to unlock the power of the future’.

So why have a dish on the menu that celebrates the legacy of French soldier Joseph Gallieni, who was a brutally efficient military commander and administrator in the French African colonies, including Sudan?

Indeed, Gallieni went on to become infamous in Madagascar as the French military leader who exiled Queen Ranavalona, abolishing the 350-year-old monarchy on the island when he kicked her out. Despite this, there he was in all his culinary glory on the menu, in a dish called ‘Filet de Barbue Gallieni’ — grilled brill with wild mushrooms, truffles and sorrel sauce. Oops.

Such a faux pas, excuse my French. Yet the bigger point is this: why continue with this affectation of dishes being listed in French at a British state dinner anyway? Surely it is time to move on from all this ‘panaché de carottes’ cultural cringe?

The tradition may have been in place since the Norman conquests of the 11th century, when French became the official language of the court. But if you are not careful, such pretentiousness can leave one with oeuf sur le visage.

King Charles held his first state banquet as monarch, a dinner in honour of South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa. The King made a hand-wringing speech about the embarrassments of the past, saying: ‘Elements of history provoke profound sorrow’

What an absolute mess Nicola Sturgeon has got Scotland into — not to mention the state of her SNP party. On Wednesday the UK Supreme Court unanimously ruled Scotland’s parliament did not have the legal authority to organise its own independence referendum.

All that money and time and scheming and effort has been utterly wasted on legal games and vendettas and petty hatreds and avoiding scrutiny, rather than focusing on the business of government. History will see Sturgeon’s time in office as a tragedy for Scotland. Her spell in power should have seen her fixing problems such as the ferries disaster and maintaining the once-high standards of the Scottish education and healthcare systems — not to mention improving the lives of the Scottish people. Instead, she presided over a monomaniacal administration obsessed with one thing only — independence. To the detriment of everything else.

And it’s not over yet. Now the undeterred First Minister says the next election will be a referendum. Will Scotland’s agony never end?

Mucky Matt shows us Tories are human, too

Has Matt Hancock made it cool to be a Tory? Don’t be ridiculous, of course not. But his appearance on I’m A Celebrity has shown the world that Conservative politicians can be human, too.

And that not all of them — or even any of them — are frothing extremists who grill puppies for breakfast and start each working day by trampling over their own grannies in the rush to privatise the NHS and put teenage shoplifters on one-way flights to Mars. 

Still, I hope his success doesn’t encourage others to tiptoe into the reality-show limelight. 

The world is not ready for Jacob Rees-Mogg on Escape To The 17th-Century Somerset Manor. It will never be ready for that.

Has Matt Hancock made it cool to be a Tory? Don’t be ridiculous, of course not. But his appearance on I’m A Celebrity has shown the world that Conservative politicians can be human, too

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