Irritating little Welsh no mark

Richard Dawkins' successor as the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, the mathematician Marcus du Sautoy, hits the nail squarely on the head in an interview with New Scientist:

What's the one thing you'd most like to achieve during your tenure?

If the likes of [radio presenter] John Humphrys, who interviewed me recently, will stop asking "So what's the point of science?" and start to ask interesting questions about science itself, that would be a good sign.

John Humphrys is the reason I no longer listen to the Today Programme. Him and Thought for the Day. He has a reputation for being a tough, no-nonsense interviewer, but his reputation has gone to his head, and now he's just a rude, cynical bully. When he interviews a politician or public figure, they are immediately on the defensive, so he gets very little out of them. The BBC has far better interviewers, such as Edward Stourton and Eddie Mair, who are polite to their interviewees, often charming them into a false sense of security before hitting them with the killer question. Humphrys, on the other hand, just makes people clam up.

"I've never heard such a load of unsubstantiated nonsense in my entire life," said one lady politician in answer to a question from Eddie Mair a couple of years back.

"You should tune in more often," said Mair.

That's the way to do it.

I don't know how Marcus du Sautoy responded to Humphrys' facile question, but I hope it was along the lines of "Fuck off, you irritating little Welsh no mark!". Although somehow I doubt du Sautoy will be familiar with the delighful Scouse term no mark.

Richard Carter

A fat, bearded chap with a Charles Darwin fixation.


  1. Accordion to toddy's Guardian, the other Ed, Stourton, has been sacked to make way for Justin Webb and is 'pretty devastated'. The same article doesn't mention Eddie Mair as being one of the regular crew who are, in descending order of annoyingness, Humphries,Montague, Davisand Naughtie.

    Humphries is just bloody rude to guests these days - forever interrupting when there's no need -plus patronisingregarding any 'youth' phenomenon (especially pop music),willfully and jokily ignorant of any technology more recent than the valve radio, and worst, that lip-smacking noise he makes before introducing the next item.

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