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Tuesday, July 21, 1998 Published at 10:56 GMT 11:56 UK


Ford rounds on top TV men

Anna Ford admitted she had a temper

The newsreader Anna Ford has issued a scathing attack on some of British television's top men, including the Director-General of the BBC.

Ms Ford, a presenter BBC One's Six O'Clock News and Radio 4's Today, criticised the professionalism of her one-time colleague Desmond Wilcox and labelled the veteran broadcaster Robin Day "a silly old fool".

She also said Sir John Birt, Director-General of the BBC had been "pathetic" for criticising her handling of a pre-election interview.

[ image: Sir John Birt was named in the attack]
Sir John Birt was named in the attack
Ms Ford, 54, aired her forthright views in a candid interview with the Radio Times.

She finished off by declaring: "We have such political correctness in this country it drives me potty and makes me want to take off my clothes and swear very loudly in public."

But despite ruffling feathers at the corporation, she appeared to have got away scot-free.

A statement issued by the BBC said: "All the events reported took place some time ago. Those that related to the BBC were dealt with at the time."

Ms Ford, a newscaster of 20 years experience, fumed at Sir John's view that she had made "more interruptions than appropriate" during a pre-general election interview with the Conservative Chancellor Kenneth Clarke.

[ image: Sir David Frost: Described as
Sir David Frost: Described as "pathetic"
"I thought how pathetic that the BBC isn't robust enough to realise we're here to question those with power," she said.

"It was insulting to Kenneth Clarke, who's perfectly capable of looking after himself."

A widow and mother of two, Ms Ford was critical of the filming techniques employed by Desmond Wilcox, with whom she worked in the 1970s on series Man Alive.

"It was good experience but I worry about the vulgarity of seeing other people's traumas as entertainment. It's like the Christians and the lions."

She said Mr Wilcox had a "terrible bad temper" while his wife, the television presenter Esther Rantzen, was "a tough old thing with a temper".

[ image: Jonathan Aitken: One of Ford's previous targets]
Jonathan Aitken: One of Ford's previous targets
Michael Parkinson and Sir David Frost, her former colleagues at the ill-fated breakfast channel, TV-am, also came in for a hammering.

"The men in the company, except Robert Kee, were pathetic, and can take a running jump," she said.

Ms Ford conceded she had a temper herself. But she said the famous incident when she threw a glass of wine at Jonathan Aitken after he sacked her from TV-am in the 1980s was "good taste, not bad temper".

Moral attack

She took a wider swipe at the media, calling for a ban on "obscene" sexually explicit magazines aimed at young teenage girls.

Of soap operas, she said the agenda was "so ratings driven and extreme that 11-year-olds have a clear idea about incest, rape, abortion and most human tragedies but not about happiness".

Mr Wilcox issued an acerbic response to the tirade against him.

"Anna spent a short time working on Man Alive, not very successfully and not for long enough to qualify as a producer or anything senior. She was known for having no sense of humour at all," he said.

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