I’m big and ugly enough. Big and ugly enough to have dodged being punched during my 15 years working within the rarefied bubble of broadcasting.
What I didn’t escape were some full-on “talent” tirades. I’ve endured hissy fits, being bawled out in public, and blamed for everything under the sun. I’ve bobbed and weaved as dummies have come sailing from prams, and been called names that were beyond the pale, even for me, no.1 contributor to the studio swearbox.
But it’s not just the talent who step over the line, I too have behaved badly during my media career. ‘Course, I’ve never thrown punches over something as trivial as telly or radio. I’ve had to sit on my hands, but never resorted to actual bodily harm – jabs and uppercuts are not exactly my modus operandi. Still, I did raise my voice, bark out orders, and act in dubious, diva-esque ways. See, when you work in the media, especially on high profile, fast turnover programmes, it’s a bit of a breeding ground for bad behaviour. You kinda need to be big and ugly enough to withstand some of the far-from-glamorous shenanigans that go on. You need to be able to hold your own, and fight your corner creatively. And if you’re not big and ugly enough, you’ll need to grow skin that’s thick as rhino’s to deflect the all-too-frequent brickbats and belittling.
Before I go any further, let’s be crystal. The media is not all bad, far from it. It was, and remains, a privileged career, and mostly, I had a blast. Plenty of production peeps never experience any of the seriously bad shit that is sometimes perpetrated in the name of “creative industries”. Loads of presenters and on-air talent keep their egos in check, their behaviour respectful and their working practices collaborative, same goes for staff. But there’s something about the media that creates monsters. Worse, those in charge tend to kowtow to the talent, appalling antics and all, in a way that’s absurdly obsequious, and horribly unhealthy.
As I know from personal experience, working in the media changes people. It’s an industry which makes it quite hard to stay grounded. Pathetic, I know, but there’s just so much fluff, and not much true grit. TV and radio is hardly life or death stuff – unless you’re Jeremy (Bowen, not Clarkson) and crew, reporting from the real frontline – but you soon lose perspective bobbing about in the bubble. Yes, the culture can bring out the absolute best in creative thinkers, but it also encourages mere mortals to climb far too far up their own backsides, me included. Oh yes, I too fell into the toytown trap of behaving like an utter arse. So, please accept an overdue blanket apology, fellow bubble inhabitants.
Having said all that, it’s true that working in the media can be pretty gruelling in its own mad way – hours are long, pressure is high, tempers get frayed and tears do get shed. But time’s up, talent. Some of you leading ladies and principle boys have been getting away with your own extreme brand of OTT antics for far too long. So, media managers, please grow some balls – bully boy tactics and diva displays need to be booted out, once and for all.
I’m shedding no tears for Jezza, given half a chance I’d punch his lights out.