|LETTERS FROM LONDON
|REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
28 April 2012
|Meet the Moron
Sunday Times telly critic, AA Gill was clearly confused - or simply stultifyingly
stupid. Instead of reviewing the BBC series on Classical Rome's everyday life,
Meet the Romans, he reviewed the presenter.
The self-deluded sexist Gill wrote that like all subordinate, second-class,
subservient women in Rome - Mary Beard should be hidden from view and
"should be kept away from the cameras altogether" except if she were to
appear on The Undateables, a programme featuring the dating problems of the
facially disfigured. Not willing to stop there, Gill compared her to a character
from Monty Python's Life of Brian.
Mary Beard is 57, has long grey locks, rides a bike, wears a red anorak, is a
professor of Classics at Cambridge and is a fabulous presenter: charming,
charismatic, entertaining, informative, witty and popular. Quite the opposite of
the tedious, loathsome Mr Gill.
Gill vilified MB in his review in 2010. Surely he shrieked in horror and had to
have oxygen administered after viewing her face in her last documentary on
Pompeii: "For someone who looks this closely at the past, it is strange she hasn’
t had a closer look at herself before stepping in front of a camera. Beard coos
over corpses’ teeth without apparently noticing she is wearing them. From
behind she is 16; from the front, 60. The hair is a disaster, the outfit an
embarrassment." Who knew he was also a fashion critic? I'm thinking literally
tossed to the lions, ripped to pieces by a few barbarians, castrated by a dwarf
would be a few Coliseum-inspired reprisals.
Other female historians - the pretty, fleshy earth-mother goddess Bettany
Hughes or the perky blonde-barrette-ed Lucy Worsley haven't been the object
of his vitriol. He does seem obsessed with Beard.
MB responded: "I’m every inch the 57-year-old wife, mum and academic, half-
proud of her wrinkles, her crow’s feet, even her hunched shoulders from all
those misspent years poring over a library desk. I could even try a Socratic
point here. Like the great Greek philosopher, I look a mess. But actually, if you
took the trouble to listen to him, he had something valuable to impart. I’m
nowhere near the towering intellect of Socrates, but at a lower level that analogy
could apply to me." How humble from someone so superiorly intelligent to the
"Maybe it’s precisely because he did not go to university that he never quite
learned the rigour of intellectual argument and he thinks that he can pass off
insults as wit. It may well be the reason why he feels the need to sneer at
intelligent, educated women like Clare and me — Clare also studied at
Newnham, Cambridge [as did Beard]..." Gill has refused to meet up with MB
face-to-face. So he's a coward as well.
Openly gay presenter Clare Balding was branded a 'dyke on a bike' by Gill last
year. My god this food critic (a quick burst of laughter here) has a problem...
surely not with his sexuality. Beard reckons: "On balance, I think Gill is better
reviewing soup and shiitake mushrooms than television programmes." Soup...
how exotic. Tinned would be best.
BBC has been sacking women 'of a certain age' - over 27 - but have backed
MB - so far. Perhaps they find her rather 'amusing'. Can't you just see her
when they want to polish her up a bit: deep décolletage, breasts shoved up
under her chin, a blow-dried mane of massive hair, 2 sets of theatrical
eyelashes, bright red lipstick, tight bandage dress revealing total thighs and let's
not forget those 8" stilettos. Oh dear. I've described the new and so unimproved
BBC Breakfast programme presenter Sussana Reid. Gill must love her after
Reid announced that she 'had breasts' and had no idea why she couldn't show
them off at 6:00 AM. Because it makes you an idiot?
Meet the Romans continues Tuesday at 9PM - corpses' teeth and all.