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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April 2005, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
No more fluffy clouds
The votes have been counted and, as promised, Newsnight will abide by the result. Jeremy Paxman responds to the news that the markets are about to make a return.

By Jeremy Paxman
Presenter, Newsnight

Jeremy Paxman
Jeremy Paxman's weather bulletins prove to be short-lived
So farewell then, weather forecasts. Newsnight's brief flirtation is over. From Monday, it's back to the dreary old markets.

A viewers' vote has concluded conclusively. As the Labour pugilist Stephen Pound would put it, "The people have spoken... The bastards."

So, from next week, Newsnight reverts to ending its summary of the news with the ten seconds of ineffable tedium that is The Markets.

As far as I recall this daily summary was introduced as result of one of John Birt's fiats around the time that he and his Armani-clad hordes fell upon the upper management of this organisation, brandishing copies of "How to be a Successful Billionaire" they had picked up in airport bookstalls.

I first became aware of what he was up to when a producer asked where she could get hold of an Old Etonian tie for a piece of dramatisation. I suggested she contact the costume department who doubtless had thousands of the things. "I've done that," she said, "but they'd charge us 125 for hiring it."

We all need to know whether to take an umbrella or if there's a danger of being exposed to Boris Johnson's legs
The internal market was one sign of Birtism. Another was the later arrival at desks in a corner of the office of a huddle of refugees clutching archaeological texts and what seemed to be the ark of the covenant. It turned out to be The World Tonight with their sacred microwave.

The markets were a public gesture that we were going to start taking high capitalism more seriously.

I suppose it's remarkable they lasted as long as they did, really. Anyone who wants or needs to know what the markets are doing can find out second-by-second through the internet, and certainly doesn't want to wait until gone eleven at night.

If there's been a dramatic rise or fall or fluctuation, Stephanie Flanders breaks off from advising the boss of the Federal Reserve and bustles across the office to put herself on the air.

Weather map
Newsnight weather maps' days are numbered
It was time for a change. Some of the worst idiocies of the BBC's internal market have been jettisoned. The policy of "bi-medialism" is dead, and the poor old World Tonight are picking up their cardies and embarking on a forced slipper march back into the radio newsroom. The markets were ripe for the chop.

And a weather summary seemed such an obvious thing with which to replace them. Of course, anyone who has a pension or a mortgage is affected by the way the markets work. But on a day-to-day basis there's damn all we can do about them. But we all need to know whether to take an umbrella or whether there's a danger of being exposed to Boris Johnson's legs.

What's more, there was room for sensible, grown-up weather, shorn of all that patronising advice about hot-water bottles and the ungrammatical, anthropomorphic guff about "big" showers "bubbling up".

But it is not to be. By a margin of 62% to 38%, people have decided they'd rather have the markets.

The usual protocol with pointless television polls based on pressing red or green buttons is that no further details are given. But the sad truth is that the total number of votes cast for the markets was a mere 3,679 (as against 2,242 for the weather.) By my calculations, this represents 0.37 percent of our viewers on a bad night.

But a poll was what our editor decided upon. And by the poll the weather will die and the markets come back like Lazarus.

A poll was a damn-fool idea (or, as my editor has asked me to say, a noble but ultimately futile experiment in democracy). I am now going into the editor's office to hand him a bottle of whisky and a pearl-handled revolver.





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