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« Iain Dale’s diary | Main | Stoptober and the “eradication” of smoking »

The Wright move

I was in Birmingham yesterday making final arrangements for our forthcoming events at the Conservative party conference.

It was wet and rather miserable.

While I was there I had to do a couple of radio interviews on the subject of smoking being “eradicated” in England by 2030.

One was with Matthew Wright, former presenter of The Wright Stuff on Channel 5.

I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this before but many years ago, when Jonathan Ross left his BBC One chat show following the Russell Brand debacle, I wrote to the BBC suggesting that Wright be given the job.

In hindsight it seems a bizarre and rather futile thing to do (I’ve never done anything like it before or since) but I’d been on The Wright Stuff and had watched the programme several times.

Wright seemed a genuinely decent guy who listened to and had empathy for his guests but wasn’t afraid to challenge them. He also struck me as pretty fair in the way he addressed topical issues.

He was also very entertaining with a good sense of humour.

I don't know if he was even considered as a replacement for Ross because Graham Norton was promoted from Monday to the Friday night slot (you can't argue with that) and Wright stayed where he was.

In June, after 18 years, he finally left Channel 5 and I was interested to see what he would do next.

The answer was TalkRADIO and yesterday I found myself speaking to him on my mobile phone while standing in a quiet but rather damp corner of Brindleyplace, close to the International Conference Centre.

As ever he was challenging but conversational in a way that very few presenters can master. (If I was controller of Radio 2 I’d have snapped him up as Chris Evans’ replacement but I suspect he’ll be much happier in a less restrictive environment.)

However, the reason for this post is that, having concluded the interview by asking me, “How do you sleep at night?”, one of my favourite presenters paid me a small compliment that, literally, left me speechless.

You can listen to it here.

PS. He later tweeted:

Update: TalkRADIO has since tweeted:

Update: I may have been a bit hasty with my praise (see Matthew's additional tweet below)! To be fair, he kept his views in check during the interview which wasn't aggressive. He simply played devil's advocate, which I would expect any good broadcaster to do, and I had ample time to respond. Can't ask for more than that.

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Reader Comments (5)

You might think he was fair but clearly he is biased . Does he ask the head of public health how he sleeps at night given the intense bullying of smokers and the move to make them homeless, jobless, and criminals? No? Thought not.

Thanks for the heads up though. I am often asked to do radio interviews. Should I hear the name Matthew Wrigt, I'll be sure to say no in fear of not really getting a fair or impartial hearing.

Friday, September 21, 2018 at 14:32 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

They told us that if people stopped smoking they would live longer, better lives. They told us that if people stopped smoking health care costs would shrink.
I have, quite recently, read articles claiming that life expectancy increases have stalled and may actually have gone into reverse. I have also read recent news reports about the ever increasing costs of healthcare in the UK, US and Europe,
In the face of the reported declines in adult smoking rates around the world one has to ask just which variety of logic are these people using?

Friday, September 21, 2018 at 15:42 | Unregistered CommenterM. Cooper

I used to watch The Wright Stuff but after a while I stopped because he had the annoying habit of voicing his biased opinions on people who were calling the show and then cutting them off before they could reply. Whenever I've heard him talking about smoking he's always been against it so no change there.

As for the issue raised by M. Cooper I feel this needs to be looked at.further at another time. With smoking in the UK down so much we should by now be getting much healthier. Cancers were affecting 1 in 3,then 1 in 2 and now it's heading for 2 in 3. Our hospitals are still overloaded. I know that people are living longer and getting cancers and other health problems they otherwise wouldn't get but with this big reduction in smoking I would have expected the health of the nation to be better.

Friday, September 21, 2018 at 21:09 | Unregistered CommenterSchabbs

How do the antismokers sleep at night knowing they further the persecution of smokers using exaggerated and contrived evidence to justify their witch hunt?

Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 17:11 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

If the pleasure of smoking lay only in the relief from withdrawal symptoms then Big Pharma's gum and patches would meet the need (being as they are an alternative nicotine delivery 'therapy' rather than as they are marketed, a nicotine replacement therapy). They don't, as evidenced by their appalling failure rate in sustaining quitting.

The pleasure of smoking lies in taking a cigarette out of the packet (or case), holding it between your fingers, putting it into your mouth, striking the light, lighting the cigarette and inhaling deeply then blowing out the smoke, holding the cigarette between your fingers until you smoke again. There is even pleasure in stubbing out the cigarette when it has reached its end.

The difference between the pleasure of HMG endorsed products and smoking is like the difference between a peck on the cheek by an infatuated 12 year old and a night of passion with the sex god (or goddess, in these times) of your dreams.

As M.Cooper has said, there is concern now that life expectancy in the UK and USA has stalled and in the article that I read, researchers had dubbed the reason as LIS (Life is Shit). Of course LIS if you can't enjoy a legal product be that cigarettes, alcohol or cream doughnuts without being lectured by all and sundry (or if you can't express an opinion in case a stranger decides to take offence on behalf of another person they don't know, or your entire life is on hold because you work on a zero hours contract as a faux self-employed person or.....too many injustices to mention). I think that now there are too many angry people, angry about many issues that, quite frankly, whether people smoke is the least of HMG's problems; HMG will, of course, continue to tackle the effects, rather than the cause of these issues, if it ever sees the issues in the first place.

"HMG - Creating Problems for the Many Not The Few Offering Strong and Stable Leadership in the Eradication of Cotton Buds and Plastic Bags"

Saturday, September 22, 2018 at 22:25 | Unregistered CommenterJay

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