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Nick Clarke has died

Nick ClarkeNick Clarke, presenter of The World at One, has died aged just 58, following a very public battle with cancer.

Nick had a long career with the BBC, but I know him best as presenter of The World at One, and for his moving audio diary of his cancer journey. He always came across more as a chatty friend than a newsreader, as reflected by some 2,000 messages of condolence on the BBC website, and many, many more on individual blogs and websites.

The beauty of Nick Clarke’s political presenting is that he could examine politics in the greatest forensic detail, whilst also retaining a warmth, a breath of knowledge about everyday life, and a touch of little humour. His presenting was always elegant, and his interviews calm and measured, simultaneously detailed, incisive and impeccably polite.

Nick Robinson’s tribute brings back fond memories of some of the best political interviews of our time:

Nick asked once asked what I consider to be the perfect question – proving that you could balance persistence with courtesy. He was being fobbed off by the government’s straight-bat man Alastair Darling who was insisting on talking about the Tories’ policies and refusing to answer about his own. Nick paused briefly after one such answer – just long enough for the audience to notice. Then in that gloriously rich bass of a voice asked, “Minister, just for the sake of neatness could you answer the question I asked you”. Glorious.

There’s a full obituary on the BBC site, as well as a tribute from Mark Damazer, the controller of Radio 4. Thoughts are with his five children, and his widow Barbara.

He will be sadly missed.

This 1,001st post was filed under: Media, News and Comment, Politics.

Hewitt: NHS has too many doctors and nurses

Everybody’s favourite giant-flower wearing government jester, Heath Secretary ‘Mad’ Patricia Hewitt, has pronounced that

some parts of the NHS in England have taken on too many doctors and nurses

That seems a bit of a sweeping statement to me. I think it’s important she’s more specific – exactly which hospitals have too many doctors and nurses? Presumably not the one in Wales, which has had to close its minor injuries unit due to a lack of staff. Presumably not Scotland, where current government estimates say there will soon be 500 too few GPs – a number the BMA beleives to be much higher. And presumably not England, where ambulances have been turned away from understaffed A&Es.

But they’re out there somewhere. And it’s important we find them. After all, we can’t go spending all the NHS money on silly extravagances like doctors and nurses when there’s marketing to be paid for.

So where are these wasteful hospitals? Dr Crippen’s looking for them. I want to know where they are. And I’m sure the electorate surrounding the identified hospitals will be interested.

So come on, Pat, tell us: Which hospitals have too many healthcare staff?

This 1,000th post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics.

France 24: Pourquoi? Qui l’observera?

France 24 (That’s “France vingt-quatre”, not “France Twenty-Four” as you might imagine). It’s an English-speaking channel “with a French perspective on the news”. It’s being launched here next month. Yes, because there’s a great demand for a French perspective on things. All those times people have said to me, “Eeee, I wish the 10 O’Clock News was a bit more French!”, or “Y’know, wouldn’t it be great if they renamed Sky News as Nouvelles de ciel?”

I just don’t get it. I don’t understand who its target audience is supposed to be, I don’t understand how it’s going to make money, and I don’t understand why anyone would be particularly interested in a French perspective on the news. I do understand why the American news channels get (albeit relatively few) viewers – after all, it’s the news from the perspective of the world’s biggest super-power. I understand Al Jazeera English – after all, the future of the unstable Middle East determines our future, and they have very different things to say. But news from a French perspective? I just don’t get it.

Here’s a trailer, as found via Iain Dale, who frankly seems as confused as the rest of us:

[flashvideo filename=”http://sjhoward.co.uk/video/france24.flv” /]

This 999th post was filed under: Media, Video.

HP Support Blog: Refund success

Letter from HPThis story has run and run, far more than I ever expected. But this looks like final, final closure.

HP have agreed to refund my £138.95 Care Pack Warranty. It is clearly to their credit that they’ve seen sense in the end, admitted fault, apologised, and refunded my money. Click the letter to the right to read it in full.

What more can I ask at this point? I feel that they’ve done all they can, they’ve come through in the end, and I’m more than happy. I do love stories with happy endings.

This 998th post was filed under: HP Support Blog.


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