Monday, 20 June 2016
422 Points of View
First viewed : February /March 1980
Points of View was returning to the schedules after almost a decade's absence having run from 1961 to 1971 as a five minute space filler where some luminary read a selection of extracts from viewers' letters. Even in the less cynical sixties there had been some suspicion that the Beeb had written the letters themselves. That's not likely to have been true but some gatekeeping must have taken place, not aggravating tetchy star talent - I don't remember much criticism of Esther Rantzen making it through - or highlighting attacks on programmes they wanted to axe anyway.
The programme was first revived as a regional feature on BBC London then went national as a ten minute filler before the Nine o Clock News on Fridays from the end of February 1980. The host came with it.
Barry Took had an impressive c.v. as a comic scriptwriter, working extensively with Marty Feldman on shows like Round The Horne and The Army Game, but going in front of the cameras did him no favours. Leaning back in his chair with middle-aged spread to the fore, he came across as dull and dessicated as fellow old bores Frank Muir and Dennis Nordern with his sarky put-downs and mock shock at criticism. While Took was just about respectful to most of the correspondents, the over-theatrical reading of the gobbets suggested that the producers regarded even the little old ladies who had nothing better to do than write in about how much they enjoyed Hinge and Bracket with the utmost contempt.
In 1986 BBC One Controller Michael Grade publicly denounced him as "boring " and axed him from the programme. Barbaric as that was, it was difficult to find much sympathy for Took who retreated to radio. His replacement was acerbic Daily Mirror journalist Anne Robinson who'd made an impression as a panelist on Question Time. Although prone to irritating digressions like responding to an inane query about her ear-rings ( not great when you've only got a ten minute slot ) she was an improvement, at least giving the impression of being independent rather than a smug lackey.
She left in 1997 to concentrate on her other show Watchdog . After brief stints from Carol Vorderman and Des Lynam it went to Terry Wogan for eight years and now Jeremy Vine although I must admit I hadn't realised it was still going. I think I may have caught the odd Wogan episode but otherwise I think I lost interest in it during the Robinson years.