What a momentous week it has been. Change has definitely come to the United States of America with the exit of Ex-President Trump and the Inauguration of President Biden. Whatever your political views I must say I’m delighted because for me it’s probably the end of an obsession with the American TV News station CNN.
That obsession started about 5 years ago and initially it was shared with another Channel FOX News. The world was starting to change in a number of different ways with the Brexit vote in the UK and the election of Donald Trump in the US. Whereas the British news outlets would go overboard in applying the normally accepted journalistic rules of being even handed it was startling to watch how partisan the American ‘News’ channels would be when carrying the same story.
FOX News would champion the self-proclaimed ‘disruptive’ Trump as he pledged to build his wall and drain the swamp, whilst CNN would become apoplectic at the next ‘outrage’ as Trump broke accepted norm after accepted norm. When FOX News left the SKY satellite platform I would watch CNN every day for my daily fix.
The obsession came to a head last autumn with the US elections and John King’s Magic Wall. As I was presenting the Late Show on Radio Wales at the time it became my nightly routine to turn off my studio and settle down on the sofa for a couple of hours, night after night as they kept repeating telling me what might happen always with the caveat that it was too close to call.
Then came the claims of voter fraud and the subsequent denials by those responsible for policing the election, including many Republicans. Then came the storming of the Capitol. I remember exactly where I was when I heard, I was in the middle of recording and editing a new podcast with Johnny Tudor when I got a message saying, ‘You’re not going to believe this, the protestors are inside the Capitol Building’. I dropped everything and found myself glued to CNN…again!
After my visit to Washington for the North American Festival of Wales I became a bit ‘obsessive’ (it’s a habit I seem to have) with that beautiful city. It was only then that I learnt that after America became Independent in 1776 the British had actually invaded again in the War of 1812. They had actually managed to capture and occupy Washington, arriving at the White House to find the food in the serving bowls still warm before turning their attention to the ‘only building of worth’ in the city, The Capitol. Before setting fire to the building they looted as much as they could including documents, well the documents they thought noteworthy that is, the rest they used to help burn the House down.
Over 200 years later the Capitol building was being ransacked and documents seized but this time the people doing it were Americans!! I kept thinking how would this look if it was happening here and these pictures were from the Houses of Parliament?
I think we’ve all held our breath over the past week or so but after the Inauguration I’m hoping that CNN will become boring and I can get on with my life. I know there were a lot of memorable moments on Inauguration Day. The Trump ‘No Show’, President Biden proving it’s never too late to see your dreams come true, Vice President Kamala Harris proving anything is possible. I loved seeing the gathering of Old Presidents there to show support, Lady Gaga’s Gold earpiece and Microphone, J Lo speaking Spanish and the wonderfully uplifting poem by Amanda Gorman.
But for me the proof that the world had changed in America came at a press conference held by Dr Anthony Fauci. For the past year we have seen him shrivel before our eyes as he has found himself in press conference after press call trying to give as much guidance as possible whilst not directly contradicting the Commander in Chief whilst not wanting to be seen to be condoning his statements and actions. I saw him on Thursday, and he looked a foot taller and 20 years younger and I heard him laugh and I saw him smile. He said that he felt ‘Liberated’ and whilst not wanting to criticise the last administration from now on, he said they would work on the principle that if you didn’t know the answer to a question ‘don’t guess’.
So how will I spend all of my free time? I think I have a new obsession. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a new Video podcast with the legendary entertainer Johnny Tudor. It started with a weekly interview on the Late Night Radio Show and now we have launched our own YouTube Channel www.themalandjohnnyshow.com
I made a list of the topics I wanted to cover and right at the top of the list was Dorothy Squires. I knew something about DOT as I had actually researched her life for the 1980’s ‘Chris Stuart Cha Cha Chat Show’. I knew she had had hit records, been married to Roger Moore and lived a colourful life to the full. When she arrived at the studios I took her into the Green Room and introduced her to John Toshack. A short lady, she looked up at him and said, ‘You’re an actor aren’t you?’ His reply was pure Toshack “Sometimes, sometimes’. DOT had even brought her own massive bouquet of flowers which we had to present to her during her interview.
Johnny Tudor’s connection to DOT went back to one of her first auditions in London. She travelled up for the day from Llanelli and managed to blag an audition with a big agent. Johnny’s dad was in the room, he offered to play for her and when she said she had nowhere to stay took her to lodge with his mum and dad in Streatham. She never forgot his kindness.
He first met DOT when he was 3 following a show in Cardiff but it was a chance encounter years later as Johnny and his dad walked down Wardour Street in London that led to him spending an afternoon drinking champagne with her and her husband Roger Moore and for DOT to become a major influence in his life from then on.
The Dorothy Squires story is the classic rags to riches to rags again but along the way she had worldwide hits and lived a life that is the stuff of Hollywood. When I stopped recording our podcast I realised there was too much material for one show, so we’ve decided to make it a 2 part Dorothy Squires special. And now I will read everything I can find and listen to all of her recordings as I try to understand better this forgotten Welsh Superstar.
Having said that the Trump Impeachment trial starts in a couple of weeks, so I won’t cancel my CNN subscription just yet!!!