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How many TV personalities are really clued up about their suggested expertise?

(86 Posts)
AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 10-May-16 23:23:52

Sorry about disjointed grammar.
I'm a keen gardener and have worked in horticulture on and of for about 15 years.
I have a massive collection of books on the subject and love to dip into them when I get a moment to myself.
Recently I bought a few books on Amazon written by the well know organic gardener Bob Flowerdew.
Nicely illustrated and fairly informative, but nothing the average organic gardener wouldn't already know about.
I delved further and did a bit of research on him.
I've met the bloke twice, a bit of an eccentric but not particularly interested in discussing his chosen field.
Thing is there is something lacking in his work history that leads me to think he was randomly picked by TV producers because of his persona and not about his actual knowledge of gardening. Does having a long plait and being out of he ordinary qualify as giving good entertainment value.?
I do wonder about a few other people I've seen on TV; chefs in particular.

wasonthelist Tue 10-May-16 23:30:12

Monty Don - the well-known Jeweller. All about who is friends with the right people.

WonkoTheSane42 Tue 10-May-16 23:34:56

Is his name really Bob Flowered? I've never heard of him, but did he get the job because of his name? Like having a baker called Jim Flourbake.

WonkoTheSane42 Tue 10-May-16 23:35:40

*Flowerdew. Autocorrect doesn't think it's his real name either.

BillSykesDog Tue 10-May-16 23:36:47

I knew Simon from 'Trev and Simon'. Fucking fraud never swung his pants in real life.

AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 10-May-16 23:37:41

I think it's about having friends in the right places.
Bob Flowerdew's garden is a right old shambles ifhis facebook page is anything to go by.

pambeesley Tue 10-May-16 23:38:10

bill - but did he used to work in a laundrette?

AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 10-May-16 23:42:47

Hugh Fearnly Wittingstall is another one ; very well connected.

Foofoobum Tue 10-May-16 23:47:06

A relative of mine is often wheeled out when they need a childcare expert. Kind of ironic as she never looked after her own kids, her husband did it ALL!

AnotherPrickInTheWall Tue 10-May-16 23:55:57

I can guess who she was Foof.

CaptainTurbot Wed 11-May-16 00:08:51

Rick Stein - failed nightclub owner turned restauranteur. No formal chef's training but owned a small restaurant in Padstow and 'got spotted' by the producer of the Keith Floyd shows at a time when he was looking for a new frontman.

AnotherPrickInTheWall Wed 11-May-16 00:15:53

Keith Floyd I really respected. Funny self deprecating and worthy of watching on TV.
Stein?? My sycophantic relative just adores him; facebook awash with references to his restaurants ( I've heard they are very overrated)
People are so easily led,

Errata Wed 11-May-16 00:17:27

Gosh, I think quite a few. Producers cast for manner, ease, audience appeal etc.

A friend of mine is an award-winning chef whose restaurant regularly wins world awards, and who writes bestselling cookery books. He's been tried out on TV in guest slots a number of times, but he's just not a natural and visibly hates it. Hence them casting people like Jamie Oliver and his hammy Italian mate - J 'bish bash bosh' O is a tv pro, whatever you think of his recipes.

Lucy Worsley is another on the history side of things. Mary Beard is a rare and wondrous exception in being both a proper historian and an excellent presenter of her own programmes. .

AnotherPrickInTheWall Wed 11-May-16 00:19:05

MNHQ, are you CaptainTurbot???

AnotherPrickInTheWall Wed 11-May-16 00:22:27

I look back to the 70's and the likes of Geoff Hamilton. Hardly had rock star personas but knew his stuff.
Delia Smith, a home cook wrote some great books but has been done down because she is too dull?

LikeDylanInTheMovies Wed 11-May-16 03:22:06


Anyone who appears on a TV show about history being described as a 'historian' really grinds my gears. Mary Beard, Amanda Vickery and Pam Cox are all great presenters who are active scholars with extensive track records of serious academic research and publication.

Then you get the likes Starkey who has a career behind him but hasn't done any proper research in years and will seemingly present a series and knock out a tie in book on any topic so long as Channel 4 are paying him and he seems to get the gigs for his controversial (read: misogynistic and racist) opinions

Then there's the PhD to TV brigade (your Susanah Lipscomb and your Kate Williams) the ones who have PhDs in history but haven't developed a track record of publication and scholarship to warrant the expert status they are afforded in the programmes they appear in. They tend to be seleted primarily on the basis of their audience appeal. They also speak well outside their subject area, have the irritating habbit of speaking in the present tense and offering opinions on how long dead figures would have felt. (Can't say I blame them, the academic job market is so dire and you need to get ahead any way they can).

Lucy Worsley is a funny one because she isn't a historian at all, but a curator who has seemingly reinvented herself.

Then you've got historian Neil Oliver (undergraduate degree in archaeology), historian Dan Jones (undergraduate history degree, claims to have studied under David Starkey at Cambridge. Funny that given that Starkey left Cambridge in the 70s and retired from academic teaching before Dan Jones was old enough to attend university) To describe them as historians is borderline fraudulent, they are tv presenters presenting a programme about history. Mere autocue jockeys

But I reserve a particular emnity for Dan Snow another one described as a historian with an undergraduate history degree to his name, but blessed with famous and influential family and is as wooden as fuck.

Jenijena Wed 11-May-16 04:00:04

I do think there's a difference between Monty Don type - he never claims to be anything other than a very enthusiastic amateur who happens to also enjoy journalism - and the 'historian' brigade who are just as qualified as me.

And if it's formal qualifications you're looking for, where do David Attenborough (tv management got lucky) or Chris Packham? Both highly respected in their field for knowledge (I assume anyway), but what is the qualification for 'passionate about animals'?

herecomethepotatoes Wed 11-May-16 04:16:28

There's a balance between knowing your stuff and television appeal. The best chef in the world may not make good television so they'd be dropped for someone who creates more interest like Jamie Oliver of Ramsey.

Do you really need to be an absolute expert in the field to read from a script or is persona and having an interest / creating interest more important? I'd suggest the latter.

Cooking is a little different to gardening as cooking requires more technique, perhaps less knowledge. You need to be a pretty good chef to come across well on television.

Most TV chefs now have been accomplished cooks before television. Hugh F-W was too. Most of his connections have been made through his time cheffing.

daisychain01 Wed 11-May-16 06:09:31

It depends if you're in the camp that says you absolutely must have formal academic qualifications to be an expert. Some people have a passion for a subject domain but never went to a red brick university. That doesn't mean they don't know about their subject. All that elite snobbery will become increasingly irrelevant in the next few generations.

LikeDylanInTheMovies Wed 11-May-16 09:11:47

I have no problem with anyone presenting TV history programmes as long as it is made clear that is what they're doing. In fact one of my favourites was Fred Dibnah's history of the industrial revolution, simply because he was an enthusiastic and engaging presenter and didn't pretend to be anything other than that.

But I do object when they are set up as historians and experts when they absolutely not. I don't think there's anything snobbish about that. If wanting the talking head on the screen being passed off an authority on the topic to be that is elitist, well I can live with that.

KittyKrap Wed 11-May-16 09:17:31

^agree about Fred Dibnah! He really engaged you as you knew he was passionate about what he was seeing.

Callmecordelia Wed 11-May-16 09:17:48

David Attenborough did have a degree in zoology actually. He left management to make programmes that reflected his passion and expertise.

Callmecordelia Wed 11-May-16 09:19:02

Although I don't know why I used the past tense there.... blush

MrsJayy Wed 11-May-16 09:21:50

Davina Mccoll fitness and nutrition expert apparently hmm

nonline Wed 11-May-16 09:22:49

I quite like Bob Flowerdew (and would agree about Geoff Hamilton, Delia and Fred Dibnah). These are all old examples because with a baby I no longer watch TV that requires concentration.

As long as the info being given on TV is correct - and they are not wildly irritating - I don't really mind.

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