And in today’s on-line Sun: “Ferne McCann (who???) shows off her baby bump on a Spanish beach.” “Love Island’s Jess Shears in sexually charged shoot.” “Daniella Westbrook (43) whips off her bikini as she splashes topless in the sea in Spain.” Just imagine the newsroom full of sweaty, chain-smoking hacks. “Phwoar!” There are many other such “stories” in Britain’s filthiest tabloid, many of which like those surrounding Ms McCann and Ms Westbrook, involve photographs that were taken without the person’s consent. Imagine that same grubby rag running the front page this headline: “‘GRUBBY BLOOD MONEY’ Princess Diana’s pals urge Channel 4 to axe film featuring unseen tapes on her doomed marriage over fears it will hurt Princes William and Harry.” But they did.
If you read not too closely, it is clear that any criticism from Rupert Murdoch’s sagging organ revolves around criticism from “Diana’s pals” and not the paper itself. The truth is that the Sun will shed only crocodile tears. They don’t give a toss about Princes William and Harry because Murdoch is a republican. This American citizen would gladly use his influence in the UK to get shot of the royals tomorrow. And anyway, this is not a newspaper that cares about the feelings of others.
The C4 film which features unseen private tapes of Diana is due to air next Sunday and you can bet the viewing figures will be huge. There will be plenty of faux anger, but the truth is that many of those who condemn the channel will be tuning in. And once they’ve watched it, they’ll probably say how disgusting it was. This is the tabloid world into which we have descended where we cry foul when people’s private lives are turned over and then we show our anger by buying the Sun and the Mail. It’s all our fault.
The new film has been timed to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, which is another way of saying C4 is taking the opportunity to exploit it. Imagine if Diana was your mother and her past was being turned over very publicly, her life being trashed. Come on: this is pure exploitation. I almost wonder if they want to make the boys cry.
And Princess Diana’s death is the main issue here. Shortly before her death, she was one of the most hated people in the land, ridiculed by the popular press, sidelined by the royal family. She was the absent mother leaving her children behind. I remember those days as if they were yesterday.
I always felt Diana was a “trophy” wife for the weak-chinned Prince Charmless who would one day be king and the fact that he had only met her on 13 occasions before they married only fuels my concerns. But for all that, she’s dead, she died when her children were young and the boys, especially Harry, have suffered enormously in the intervening years.
C4 next Sunday will be the home for voyeurs, as well as the kind of rubberneckers who slow down to look at the wreckage from a car crash. It will reflect aspects of the gruesome society we have become through the explosion of gossip magazines and the celebrity obsession of tabloid newspapers and, yes, their readers.
I’ll be honest: I think the idea of broadcasting a programme which will consist primarily of private conversations from over two decades ago, which will tell is nothing new, is seriously unpleasant and unprincipled. I won’t be among the many millions who will tune in. Those who do watch will never again be taken seriously when they criticise media intrusion.