Monday, 28 July 2008

If they cut my salary by 90% I'd probably have to become a hippy or a monk or something

I'd probably be hopelessly over-romanticising our sceptered isle if I were to say 'only in Britain would personnel changes at a quiz show watched solely by students and the unemployed be a source of front page tabloid furore.'

Fortunately I am very ignorant of foreign cultures, most especially their pig-heathen TV shows, so no worries on that score.

So yeah, the Mirror splash today ran 'Countdown Meltdown' and was an account of how Channel 4 had shafted Carol Vorderman by offering her an insulting 90% paycut if she wanted to stay on at Countdown, hence her rather forced decision to jog on.
For my vast foreign readership, Countdown is a daytime quiz show in which nervous looking people in jumpers do maths and word puzzles in the hope of winning a dictionary. Since it began in 1982, Carol Vorderman has served in the role of the show's human calculator, and over the years a combination of improved stylists and our country's monstrously over-developed sense of irony has served to turn her into a sex symbol of sorts. Due to its timeslot and heady combination of being heroically untaxing but with a mild intellectual twist, watching it is pretty much a student rite of passage, and it racks up about 1.5m viewers a day, which is okay. Nobody but family members of contestants has ever recorded an episode to watch later. But it is an institution. We are upset about change. However:

1. If Channel 4 just told everyone Vorderman was still presenting, the people who used to watch the show but don't anymore would be happy. People who actually watch the show would probably be cool with it too - yeah, you might not appreciate being lied to, but - and I'm possibly being optimistic here - I don't think the average student about to embark on a university career actually sits around rocking back and forth in frenzied excitement thinking OMG I'M A STUDENT NOW I'M GOING TO GET TO SEE CAROL VORDERMAN DO TEH NUMBERS!

2. Carol Vorderman will famously lend her level tones and status as the most famous maths, uh, person in the land to almost any cause, notably those dodgy loans a few years back. Does the fact she did basic maths on TV for a long time make up for this? No! A hard rain needs to fall. A HARD RAIN.

3. Carol Vorderman having a paycut is not like you or I having a paycut

4. There are surely other maths people out there who deserve a stab at fame. Yeah, we'll mourn Vorderman for a while, but we don't know any better at the moment, she's had the monopoly. It's time we moved on, saw other people.

5. She's been in the same job for quarter of a century - she needs to move on as much as we do. More.

6. Is she even, like, THAT good at maths? I mean, can she do fractals?

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