Thus is was that the Mail’s front page today splashed Corbett’s face across it, along with the thundering “Never crude or cruel, Ronnie Corbett made millions laugh and shone with decency. When so many spivs and cronies get gongs … WHY WASN’T HE KNIGHTED?” And there was more: “his countless fans were left asking why the 'ultimate class act' had never been knighted … MPs said it was 'a great sadness', particularly given the tainted gongs given to figures such as Jimmy Savile”.
Well, two MPs did. And some in showbusiness too. But the Mail also lets slip that Corbett’s former double-act partner Ronnie Barker failed to secure a K, and nor did the likes of Morecambe and Wise. Stuff happens with the honours system.
That does not deter the Mail, which wheels out Jimmy Tarbuck, Judi Dench, Bruce Forsyth, Julian Fellowes and Anita Harris in support, before putting the boot into those who it considers unworthy of honours, including Savile, Philip Green, Fred Goodwin, Cyril Smith, Anthony Blunt, Karren Brady and Michelle Mone. But this assault on the honours system is not about Ronnie Corbett, but the Mail’s editor Paul Dacre, who has seen others in his profession knighted, and has decided he should also be thus honoured.
Back in December 2011, the Mail railed at “Tainted New Year Honours … Knighthood for Tory donor who made millions from credit crunch and CBE for jailed tycoon … Ex-convict Gerald Ronson and Conservative Party supporter Paul Ruddock both honoured … David Cameron accused of being 'out of touch' with decent British people … Government source says Prime Minister has no personal involvement in deciding who receives honours … Founder of online gambling company bet365 also appointed OBE”.
In June 2013 it was “Dishonours! Gongs for water boss who put up bills, police chief who failed tragic Victoria Climbie, hedge fund tycoon who bankrolls Tories and, oh yes, a Labour luvvie … Thames Water boss Robert Collington awarded OBE for consumer services … Retired Met police chief Sue Akers given a CBE for 'services to policing’ … Millionaire Tory donor Michael Hintze receives a knighthood … 'Labour luvvie' and Blackadder actor Tony Robinson gets a knighthood”.
And last December brought “Tainted New Year Honours [again]: Gongs for sex shop queen, boss of shambolic tax office and cronies, donors and bungling bureaucrats … List is plunged into fresh controversy with a string of contentious awards … Jacqueline Gold, boss of high street sex shop Ann Summers, made a CBE … Lin Homer, who runs the shambolic UK tax office, is awarded a dame hood … Joined by a string of scandal-hit bureaucrats, political cronies and donors”.
Other papers have just reported Ronnie Corbett’s death: only the Mail has been so tasteless as to hijack it for its editor’s vanity and desperation. No surprise there, then.