The fallout from the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha continues, with the two hosts from Australian radio station 2Day FM giving interviews about their horror at the result of the law of unintended consequences. The tears shown by Mel Greig may have been genuine, but this has not assuaged the righteous anger of the Daily Mail’s tedious and unfunny churnalist Richard Littlejohn.
Australian birds, Guv? They're all called Sheila, innit?!?
“Do spare us the self-pity, Sheila” he snipes dismissively, at the start of a long and suitably dull rant about how “Prank phone calls are the lowest form of so-called ‘comedy’ currency”, despite his being a great friend of the late Jeremy Beadle, whose appetite for pranks of whatever kind he could devise knew no bounds. And then he goes on to Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand.
Their prank call – which resulted in the infamous message left on Andrew Sachs’ voicemail – is judged by Dick to have been “evil”. Moreover, it “was signed off by BBC producers” (so Dick gets to kick the Beeb, which will earn him extra brownie points from the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre). Plus Ross and Brand did not suffer enough for Littlejohn’s liking.
So by now it’s pretty clear that making prank phone calls is A Very Bad Thing. And that means that anyone making those calls is dealing in “the lowest form” of comedy. So you may think you won’t find Littlejohn so much as mentioning any of them. But you would be wrong, because Dick is clearly a fan of someone who turned the hoax phone call into an art.
Back in 2009, Littlejohn wanted to pour scorn on the Chilcot Inquiry (more prosaically known as the Iraq Inquiry). His intention was to suggest that “the outcome was preordained”. In his attempt to frame the Inquiry as some kind of sham, he cited the late Peter Cook, describing him as “comic genius ... brilliant ... inspired ... hilarious”. But he missed out one small factoid about Cook.
And that was his propensity for hoax phone calls, especially to Clive Bull’s late night show on LBC, for which he devised the fictional character of “Sven from Swiss Cottage”. Moreover, unlike the Beadle stunts and the 2Day FM prank, all of Cook’s calls went out live. Maybe Littlejohn has forgotten all of that – or just hoped that the daily news cycle would have moved on, so that his audience wouldn’t notice.
Not that Richard Littlejohn is a hypocrite, you understand. Perish the thought!