Martin Bell tries another career change
Former BBC war correspondent and independent MP Martin Bell collaborates on a hip-hop song for charity.
Do we really want to be media junkies - asks former reporter-turned-MP Martin Bell - when the media jungle is full of monkeys?
It seems to be the central question on this charity pop single, Bell's gently mocking tirade against the celebrity-led dumbing down of our culture.
It does not seem unreasonable for Bell to be making the case, given his distinguished career as BBC war correspondent (serious hard news, plenty of frowning) and latterly politician (more of the same).
But, noble though his stated aim of raising money for Unicef is, I cannot help thinking his communicative charms could have been put to better use.
To an undistinguished rave-era house backing lasting nearly four minutes, Bell not so much raps as delivers one of his long, deadpan soundbites to the beat - more a case of broadcasta than gangsta.
Like your dad dancing at a wedding do, the ex-honourable member for Tatton comes on a bit like David Brent on Red Nose Day as he offers up his trademark clipped prose:
"We're spoon-fed this/spoon-fed that/Look what the Queen's/wearing for a hat."
Full marks to Bell, though - or The Man In The White Suit to give him his "street" name - for managing to namecheck ex-BBC colleagues Kate Adie and Michael Buerk, as well as getting a dig in at his old political rivals:
"The legends of the TV screens/are those of OK magazine/The news is what the ratings say/Neil and Christine rule OK?"
Bell does make a serious and timely point about the erosion of news values in a world where glamour and superficiality often take precedence over the truly important issues of the day.
However, for someone of his stature it does seem a somewhat lame target, a bit old hat and hardly subversive.
It is not always clear whether Bell is satirising the media itself or the people who consume it - an irony given that he may about to become just one more throwaway comsumable "product" himself.
Still, it is only a pop record - not war and peace, as Bell himself would surely testify.
Media Junkies is on release now on Aim High Records.