Whats a TV historian meant to look like?
Whats a TV historian meant to look like?

Whats a TV historian meant to look like?
Whats a TV historian meant to look like?

One of the great things about punk, perhaps the greatest, was the brief period when a woman didn’t have to be a ‘dolly bird’ to be in band. There they came in all shapes and sizes and with an avalanche of talent and attitude.

This seems like some long lost era when you look at today’s mainstream media which is stuffed full of pouting desperadoes. It’s got so tragic that the sight of TV historian Mary Beard has drawn comment from the Sunday Times TV critic and dusty old relic, AA Gill who wrote.

”ËœMary Beard should be kept away from cameras altogether.’ he wrote in his TV column, adding, ‘She’s this far from being the subject of a Channel 4 dating documentary.’ which was a reference to The Undateables, a Channel 4 series about people with disabilities or facial disfigurements.
In another previous review he wrote, ”ËœFor someone who looks this closely at the past, it is strange she hasn’t had a closer look at herself before stepping in front of a camera.’
He added: ”ËœThe hair is a disaster, the outfit an embarrassment. If you are going to invite yourself into the front rooms of the living, then you need to make an effort.’

This is the AA Gill who shot a primate from a distance to see what it was like to kill something. A very detached, 21st century sniggering lads mag act of cowardice.

Does anyone really look at a history series and care about whether the presenter has the right hair? or the right clothes on? For the record Mary Beard is a really good presenter who gets a lot of information over with enthusiasm and makes it really interesting. Power to her for looking the way she wants, just because she’s not a bimbo doesn’t mean she doesn’t possess her own TV charisma. Is the prime qualification for presenting a TV programme having plastic surgery or breasts stuffed with bags of jelly?

It seems quite bizarre that in 2012 someone is judging a history programme by what the presenter looks like, the seeping soft porn of modern culture has got everywhere. It’s the downside of pop culture when everyone (especially women) in the public eye is expected to be sexy or good looking to the slavering male TV critic.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. as usual a class diatribe,a pompous preening twat,who thinks his opinion is all,if looks and appearence were the criteria for tv,instead of subjects of interest we would be back in the 50,s bbc speak and dinner jackets with no woman presenters at all..so ignore the jackass.

  2. Germaine Greer once said that “Women have very little idea of just how much men hate them.” Should she have said, “Women have very little idea of how much BOYS hate them?” And by the word “boys”, I’m talking about adult men who don’t go beyond the age of about thirteen in their mind. They hate women and AA Gill is one of them.. There seems to be more of them in the mediastocracy. They were beautifully parodied in “American Psycho.” Adult men who are Adult men dont hate, fear, seek to humilate or steal dignity from women. They are worth their weight in gold and its so great when you get to know one of them. Easy to respect. Easy to love. Not killers.

    • Julie Burchill is not an AA Gill type. She worked hard to draw attention to the fact that the Rape Crisis centres around the country were having their funds cut and were having to close. I can’t see AA Gill bothering to do that.

      • I’m sure Burchill has her good points but her blanket condemnation attitude towards Muslims stinks.
        Maybe that’s OK with some.

        • I will let you know next time I get called a Western Whore on Huddersfield station, once I’ve cleaned the spit off my face.
          Yes, I know that is only the insane minority, but Burchill doesn’t shy away from the problem. Most journos do. Maybe that’s ok with some.

        • Stu, are you saying that I support a “blanket condemnatinon of Muslims?” If so, I think that is an unwise remark. As a white female I sometimes get remarks from extremist muslims, designed to express their condemnation of “western attitudes.” Ive been spat on a few times. Told to “stop laughing” as I walk along with my friends, by men who have been taught to hate. Does that mean ALL muslims are like that? Of course not. Burchill points out the problem. Does that mean SHE thinks all muslims are like that. Of course not. If you can’t see the difference between blanket condemnation, and pointing out a problem that exists in our country, then you shouldn’t attempt to read Julie Burchill’s work. Its too much for you.

  3. AA Gill is a very fine critic but a dreadful human being. The two things don’t necessarily have to be simbiotic. Like his chum, Clarkson he thinks his misogyny and obnoxiousness makes him some kind of PJ O’Rourke libertarian teller of truths but just exposes his own public school snobbery,prejudice and nastiness.

  4. Well said. Mary Beard’s documentary on Rome last week was a real breath of fresh air – someone who clearly knows her subject matter inside out and backwards, and her enthusiasm for her subject made fine viewing, and for me, showed several other parts of Rome I’ve not seen before, and will when I go back.

    For Adrian Gill to pour scorn just because the programme isn’t presented by Sophia Loren is very cheap journalism.

    As said before, this is from a balding washed-up hack who kills animals for shits and giggles, and should be treated as such.

  5. When the man’s TV review comments come straight from the playground, should we really be letting him tell us where he thinks we should eat?

  6. Good points JR, and you are so right about women in punk era. You wouldn’t have the likes of the much missed Poly Styrene nowadays. Mary Beard is a superb historian. The depth of her knowledge combined with her unbridled and infectious enthusiasm comes across just as well on TV as it does in the lecture theatre (she taught my mate who adored her). After watching the programme it made me want to learn Latin, befriend her so I could on holiday with her to Rome and get that tour. I don’t care what she looks like, and I reckon she’d not only be a good teacher, but a bloody good laugh too. AA Gill is a snob whose views are worthless.

  7. I thought the programme was really good, Mary was great and she made the programme really interesting with her delivery and enthusiasm. Conversly I think AA Gill appears to be a total knob, and no oil himself.

  8. On AA Gill’s Wikipedia it says:

    “His essays are known for their humour [citation needed]”

    Oh… the irony…

  9. Totally wrong to accuse Gill of sexism.

    Gill is not a misogynist he is a misanthrope.

    He has insulted all the male TV historians too.

    That is his job and of course he said ‘punk’ was merely the next generation. He does attract hate. Maybe he is more of a ‘punk’ than he remembers.

  10. If you are going to have a dig at the hateful Gill for killing an animal the way he did why not balance this with what Mary Beard wrote about the 9/11 attacks on the USA: “But when the shock had faded, more hard-headed reaction set in. This wasn’Â’t just the feeling that, however tactfully you dress it up, the United States had it coming. That is, of course, what many people openly or privately think. World bullies, even if their heart is in the right place, will in the end pay the price.” LRB, on 4 October 2001

    Or maybe you agree with her.
    Read more: httpss://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2134146/Too-ugly-TV-No-Im-brainy-men-fear-clever-women.html#ixzz1t9KQ4jiR

  11. Those of you who found beard’s programme interesting and informative have clearly never read a book or spent more than four seconds contemplating the world around you. Her show was incredibly basic, patronising twaddle. Her astonishment at the very obvious necessities of life suggests an individual who’s never left the confines of academia. I’ve not studied roman society in any great depth but having forced myself to sit through her crappy, ill judged, condescending diatribe I can safely say I had learnt nothing new about Rome, trade, societal structure, religion or food. A cobblers. Gill might be a git but you’d have thought someone as brilliantly clever as Mary beard informs us she is would have realised that dignified silence would have been a reasonable response and to dismiss gill as ‘incapable of intellectual rigour’ as he hadn’t been to university is risible.

  12. She animates the past because I suspect she understands the present: she understands how arbitrary are time’s divisions. She does not write joke columns for a fading Sunday newspaper; she does not make her readers feel better by mocking a collective third party.


  13. I enjoyed Meet the Romans; I respect Ms Beard’s academic background and find it irrelevant whether she’s ‘glam’ or more average. I don’t watch that kind of prog for glamour!
    Incidentally I rather like her quirky style and as a 50 yr old myself would be perfectly happy with such a look 7 years down the line.
    I’m flabbergasted that in this age of equality (?) there would even be comments on a presenter’s appearance.

  14. […] Yes, partly. Mary Beard was right, and very funny, in the way she handled [AA Gill's] stupid comment about not being pretty enough for TV [Beard responded with an article saying men fear clever […]

  15. The conversation: Why is there so much misogyny online? | Firstpage Online UK News .co.uk

    […] Yes, partly. Mary Beard was right, and very funny, in the way she handled [AA Gill's] stupid comment about not being pretty enough for TV [Beard responded with an article saying men fear clever […]

  16. Is it wrong of me to want to see AA Gill doing a tv programme with a trendy haircut, delicate makeup and a pretty dress? And shaved legs and stockings and 4-inch stilettos, obviously. After all, what’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander! *evil chuckle*

  17. If I can do it you can do this too.

  18. […] Yes, partly. Mary Beard was right, and very funny, in the way she handled [AA Gill's] stupid comment about not being pretty enough for TV [Beard responded with an article saying men fear clever […]

  19. Quran (4:104) – “And be not weak hearted in pursuit of the enemy; if you suffer pain, then surely they (too) suffer pain as you suffer pain…”

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