A-Maze-Ing! (but not in a good way)
For those of us who love the high-pitched tenor of American talk radio – which is often akin to being trapped in a cage of enraged parrots – this show didn’t disappoint. For forty-five minutes I endured a good old King Richard the Third-bashing with lashings of masochistic Brit-bashing thrown in for good measure. What could be more fun?
Led by the plummy-voiced presenter, Michael Buerk, who began his laid-back introduction by calling Richard a “twisted tyrant,” a “child murderer” and a “most unworthy king,” it quickly devolved further into an attack on the poor folk who dared to line the streets of Leicester to get a glimpse of the cortege of the last English king to die in battle. They were called “incomprehensible,” “baffling” and panelist Melanie Phillips brayed that they were “unhealthy” people – as if they somehow got an erotic frisson by participating in this unprecedented event. Apparently, down to the tiniest tot holding a white rose, no one was given credit for having a legitimate interest in this great panorama of British history and culture playing out before their eyes. Nope! They were only there to drool over the burial of the original Bad Boy of Britain.
So imagine my relief to hear the soft, patient voice of Dr. John Ashdown-Hill who called into the program from Leicester and proceeded to deny that King Richard was anything like Jeremy Clarkson or Adolf Hitler. He refused to accept the word “usurper” when describing Richard’s ascent to the throne and brought up the distinctly uncomfortable fact that The Duke of Gloucester was petitioned by the Three Estates to take the crown. The panelists (which seemed to include historian Paul Lay and “revolutionary communist” Claire Fox – none of whom were properly introduced) lapsed into confused silence on that point which is surprising given that even Mr. Shakespeare acknowledged that fact. Mr. Buerk quickly urged the panelists to “move on” which, of course, meant another full-throttled attack on the medieval Dr. Crippen once Ashdown-Hill disconnected. So, in the end it was a completely unilluminating forty-five minutes out of my life.
It was enough to make my eyes roll toward heaven!