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AMANDA PLATELL: BBC’s navel-gazing agenda is why it’s losing greats like Woman’s Hours Jenni Murray 

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amanda platell bbcs navel gazing agenda is why its losing greats like womans hours jenni murray

For me, the clocks will all stop at 10am on October 1 when Jenni Murray presents her last Woman’s Hour.

The woman with an iron wit in a velvet voice is giving up her beloved job after 33 years to write more books, present new radio shows and enjoy her 70s with her husband John and their two sons.

I wish Jenni well. She has long been a heroine of mine. For millions of us, she has been the calm, clever, considered friend we always wanted to hear from and listen to.

For me, the clocks will all stop at 10am on October 1 when Jenni Murray presents her last Woman¿s Hour

For me, the clocks will all stop at 10am on October 1 when Jenni Murray presents her last Woman¿s Hour

For me, the clocks will all stop at 10am on October 1 when Jenni Murray presents her last Woman’s Hour

And yet Jenni’s also a forensic interviewer. She was the one who asked Monica Lewinsky why she hadn’t washed Bill Clinton’s parting gift to her from that blue dress.

Then of Hillary Clinton, why she’d stayed with a man who had cheated on her. Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto — Jenni interviewed everyone who was anyone.

She became the friend and commentator of womankind. We travelled with her when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost her hair. We found echoes of our own lives when she described her battles with her mum and with her weight.

Many agreed with her when she was bold enough to venture into the gladiatorial arena of trans women, saying ‘be trans, be proud — but don’t call yourself a “real woman” ’. The LGBT lobby was enraged, and I wonder if that was the moment Jenni realised the Beeb was no longer her natural home.

The great personalities of the BBC — Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil — are disappearing before our eyes. 

They’re being replaced by navel-gazing, metropolitan chat-show hosts obsessed with a diversity agenda that ignores the views of the majority.

Jenni is the best kind of feminist. She has been fearless, principled, provocative and brave, a brilliant broadcaster with the ability to touch millions of us.

And I know for certain what a tough job it will be to replace her. Because I once stood in for Jenni for a few days and I was utter rubbish.

She’ll be the toughest act to follow. If her microphone is taken over by co-presenter Jane Garvey, who has perfected the grating tone of the dentist’s drill, it will be the end of the programme.

The great personalities of the BBC ¿ Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil (above)¿ are disappearing before our eyes

The great personalities of the BBC ¿ Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil (above)¿ are disappearing before our eyes

The great personalities of the BBC — Jenni, Libby Purves, Jeremy Paxman, John Humphrys, both the Dimblebys, Andrew Neil (above)— are disappearing before our eyes

Despite having to put up with these chauvinists, the gorgeous blonde is not suing the bank over sexism, but over a bonus she believes she was denied

Despite having to put up with these chauvinists, the gorgeous blonde is not suing the bank over sexism, but over a bonus she believes she was denied

Despite having to put up with these chauvinists, the gorgeous blonde is not suing the bank over sexism, but over a bonus she believes she was denied

So who boobed?

Financier Amanda Staveley was described by former Barclays banker Stephen Jones as ‘thick as s*** with large breasts’. 

She was also called ‘a tart’ who slept with clients and a ‘dolly bird’ by his colleagues. 

She accepted Jones’s apology, adding she was saddened he had resigned. 

Despite having to put up with these chauvinists, the gorgeous blonde is not suing the bank over sexism, but over a bonus she believes she was denied.

Proof she is a class act — not a daft tart with big t**s.

A rapper called ‘DMO Deejay’ brought the M60 to a standstill as he and his boy racer fans took videos of themselves while they blocked the motorway. 

What were the police doing during this outrage that delayed motorists for 90 minutes? Probably on the hard shoulder taking the knee. 

BBC presenter Jane Hill was close to tears reading news that the three teenage travellers who killed PC Andrew Harper were convicted not of murder but manslaughter — and rejoiced at it. 

She’d just heard his wife Lissie’s heartbreaking statement. A nation wept with them both at the gross injustice of it all. 

Harry and Megs feel the heat

Megs and Harry are suing an unknown snapper for breach of privacy after he took drone pictures of baby Archie in the grounds of their £14 million Beverly Hills mansion.

Poor loves — they believed they were escaping the horrid UK media but they now find themselves in the maw of the carnivorous LA paparazzi.

Had they not decided they were too big and too good for the Royal Family, they could still be raising Archie in the seclusion of Windsor where their privacy was ensured.

Pardon me for not squatting at the altar of that exercise chappie Joe Wicks, who is taking a break from his lockdown videos

Pardon me for not squatting at the altar of that exercise chappie Joe Wicks, who is taking a break from his lockdown videos

Pardon me for not squatting at the altar of that exercise chappie Joe Wicks, who is taking a break from his lockdown videos

Joe’s certainly fitter financially

Pardon me for not squatting at the altar of that exercise chappie Joe Wicks, who is taking a break from his lockdown videos. 

Yes, he’s raised £580,000 for the NHS, but in the meantime he’s gathered 3.8 million online followers and a ten-book deal with more lucrative TV projects on the horizon. 

I’m sure his intentions were altruistic, but Joe will not be the only one who through selflessness becomes a virus multi-millionaire.

After Coleen Rooney believed she’d trapped a friend leaking stories about her, she outed Rebekah Vardy to her two million Twitter and Instagram followers.

Rebekah says she was left suicidal by the ‘false’ allegations made while she was heavily pregnant, because of the vile abuse on social media. ‘Your baby deserves to be put in the incinerator and so do you, fat-nosed c***’, one person told her.

The next time Coleen parades her wholesome family and holidays before us, we should all recall the cruelty she has inflicted on a former friend.

Stuart was a softie

The Brexit campaigner and spread-betting millionaire Stuart Wheeler has died, aged 85. I recall him fondly as the only man who has ever given me a cheque for £1 million (as you would) — it was for the Tory fighting fund when I worked for the party. 

He also paid for my suite in Knightsbridge’s The Capital hotel for a month during the 2001 election. He was such a softie he knew it was the only place that would allow my three-legged old moggie Ronnie to stay with me. 

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis takes to the cover of Tatler looking sultry. Inside she poses wearing vertiginous stilettoes, a skintight couture suit and evening gloves next to, of all accessories, her grey whippet. 

Yes she looks fabulous, but will she ever stop milking that Prince Andrew interview. And no complaints please from her in the future for us not taking her seriously as a journalist. 

My fantastic Aunty Dot died this week, refusing treatment for cancer and going out her own way, bravely, at 89, probably puffing on her last cigarette. 

We only ever had one row, when I forgot to mention her role in the family’s morning rituals in a book I wrote about my Dad’s childhood in the Aussie bush. 

So I am making amends: Dot’s role was to walk the cow to school — the only place that had any grass. 

So Whoopi Goldberg believes that even though her hit movie Ghost took half a billion dollars, it is a victim of racism and not considered alongside other classics. 

‘Would it have been different if I had been short and cute and blonde?’ she ponders. Indeed — no identikit blonde could have had Whoopi’s comic timing.

Churchgoers at Sheffield Cathedral are bereft that their famous traditional choir has been disbanded to be replaced by one that ‘better reflects its local mixed urban community’. 

Bring it on, herald the tambourines, invite Stormzy to rap — and see your congregation shrink to nothing. One thing we practising Christians can do in the face of such nonsense is vote with our feet, and go to another church. 

Churchgoers at Sheffield Cathedral are bereft that their famous traditional choir has been disbanded to be replaced by one that ¿better reflects its local mixed urban community¿. Reverend Canon and Vice Dean, Keith Farrow is pictured above outside Sheffield Cathedral

Churchgoers at Sheffield Cathedral are bereft that their famous traditional choir has been disbanded to be replaced by one that ¿better reflects its local mixed urban community¿. Reverend Canon and Vice Dean, Keith Farrow is pictured above outside Sheffield Cathedral

Churchgoers at Sheffield Cathedral are bereft that their famous traditional choir has been disbanded to be replaced by one that ‘better reflects its local mixed urban community’. Reverend Canon and Vice Dean, Keith Farrow is pictured above outside Sheffield Cathedral 

Westminster Wars

Well done Chancellor Sunak for awarding doctors, police and the Army pay rises

Well done Chancellor Sunak for awarding doctors, police and the Army pay rises

Well done Chancellor Sunak for awarding doctors, police and the Army pay rises

How utterly ridiculous that the Intelligence and Security Committee believe the result of the Brexit referendum was influenced by those pesky Russians bent on world domination, and what an insult to the 17.4 million Brits who voted Leave, to imply that an email from a Ruskie would have changed their mind.

Well done Chancellor Sunak for awarding doctors, police and the Army pay rises. 

But why include all teachers in the list of deserving CV fighters when so few of them were in the frontline as they sat back on full pay during lockdown and their unions thwarted Government plans to get kids back to school?

Bizarre that, of the £71 million aid we give China, £500,000 was for supposedly ‘supporting human rights’, when we knew it was imprisoning its Uighur Muslim population, and ‘re-educating’, torturing and even sterilising them?

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Body is found in the sea off Brighton

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body is found in the sea off brighton

Police in Sussex are trying to identify the body of a man who was found in the sea off the coast of Brighton yesterday afternoon. 

The man was recovered from the sea in Lancing at 1.40pm yesterday. A dinghy containing a shopping trolley and mobile phone was discovered nearby. 

Officers believe the man was from the Sussex area. 

The body of a man was recovered off the coast of West Sussex yesterday

The body of a man was recovered off the coast of West Sussex yesterday 

A major search operation was launched yesterday after the body was reported into the water

A major search operation was launched yesterday after the body was reported into the water

Police recovered this dinghy containing a shopping trolley and mobile phone from the sea near the man's body

Police recovered this dinghy containing a shopping trolley and mobile phone from the sea near the man’s body

A Sussex Police spokesman said: ‘At 1.40pm on Monday afternoon (10 August) police were informed by the Coastguard that a small unoccupied dinghy had been found floating in the sea off Shoreham and was being brought to shore.

‘A search of the area off Shoreham has been continuing for any person or any items from the dinghy, which is not thought to be connected with asylum seekers.’ 

A coastguard helicopter was also involved in yesterday's search and rescue operation

A coastguard helicopter was also involved in yesterday’s search and rescue operation 

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Boris Johnson is urged take on teachers like the miners in 1980s

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boris johnson is urged take on teachers like the miners in 1980s

Boris Johnson was today urged to emulate Thatcher’s battle against coal miners and force teaching unions to get children back in schools.

Tory MPs are demanding the PM stays ‘unbreakable’ despite claims of attempts to sabotage his drive to get all pupils back in classes in England next month.

There are also increasing signs of a backlash against Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, with complaints he has been ‘practically invisible’ and comparisons with hapless comedy character Frank Spencer. 

Mr Johnson turned up the heat in the standoff yesterday by insisting that there is a ‘moral duty’ to get all schools up and running in England in September. Scotland’s schools are returning from today, because their holidays end earlier. 

The comments came after one union said ministers should have a plan B – such as a ‘week-on, week-off’ rota system for pupils – in case of further lockdowns and spikes in Covid-19 cases.

Margaret Thatcher in 1987

Boris Johnson visits a school yesterday

Tory MPs are urging Boris Johnson (pictured right visiting a school yesterday) to emulate Margaret Thatcher’s (left) battle against coal miners and force teaching unions to get children back in schools

Scotland's schools are returning from today, because their holidays end earlier. Pictured, pupils arrive at Kelso High School in the Scottish Borders

Scotland’s schools are returning from today, because their holidays end earlier. Pictured, pupils arrive at Kelso High School in the Scottish Borders

There are signs of a Tory backlash against Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured last month), with complaints he has been 'practically invisible' and comparisons with hapless comedy character Frank Spencer

There are signs of a Tory backlash against Education Secretary Gavin Williamson (pictured last month), with complaints he has been ‘practically invisible’ and comparisons with hapless comedy character Frank Spencer

There have also been extensive lists of safety demands – which critics say are designed to be impossible to meet. 

On a visit to a school in London yesterday, Mr Johnson said he hoped schools would not be forced to close as a result of local lockdowns, adding it was the ‘last thing’ that the Government wanted to do.

‘But clearly what we are doing – the way we are trying to manage the Covid pandemic – is to have local measures in place and local test and trace to introduce restrictions where that’s necessary,’ he said.

‘As we have all said, the last thing we want to do is to close schools. We think that education is the priority for the country and that is simple social justice.’

Ministers have become increasingly frustrated with the teaching unions in recent days, particularly after the National Education Union published a ‘nit-picking’ list of 200 safety demands for all schools to adhere to.

But the government is facing increasing pressure to take a tough line. 

The Tory chair of the education select committee, Robert Halfon, told the Telegraph: ‘The Government needs to be absolutely unbreakable on this. If teachers won’t go in, be Maggie about it and say ‘we will find alternatives’. ‘ 

Former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith added: ‘Unions have got one objective – to use their political muscle to damage Boris Johnson. 

‘It’s a re-run of the Eighties except it’s not the coal miners, it’s the teaching unions.’ 

One backbencher delivered a withering verdict on Mr Williamson’s performance, telling the paper: ‘Boris has got to show the courage of Thatcher in his battle with the unions, but that’s quite difficult when his divisional commander is Frank Spencer.’  

The unions insist they are not trying to sabotage the back-to-school plans but are asking genuine questions about the Government’s approach and the lack of a plan B should virus cases escalate again.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: ‘This idea that demonising the trade unions lets the Government off the hook with difficult questions we are asking. 

Mr Johnson (pictured visiting a school in Upminster yesterday) turned up the heat in the standoff yesterday by insisting that there is a 'moral duty' to get all schools up and running in England in September, and it is the 'right thing for everybody'

Mr Johnson (pictured visiting a school in Upminster yesterday) turned up the heat in the standoff yesterday by insisting that there is a ‘moral duty’ to get all schools up and running in England in September, and it is the ‘right thing for everybody’

‘They ought to be facing difficult questions because we are in the middle of something extremely challenging.’

Mr Barton added: ‘We would like to see more thought given to blended learning as a back-up plan, which could be a rota system of children in for one week and then learning at home for one week. This would be better than children returning solely to remote education.’

Avis Gilmore, deputy general secretary of the National Education Union, called for a more robust test, track and trace system to be in place to ensure the welfare of pupils and school staff.

She said: ‘Government could do much more to assure schools and local authorities that, should a second spike occur, either nationally or locally, there is a clear Plan B in place.

‘This plan needs to spell out what action must be taken in a variety of situations, so that schools and colleges can make the preparations parents expect of them.’

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Inventive vicar uses extra-long chopsticks to dish out bread to worshippers amid Covid pandemic

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inventive vicar uses extra long chopsticks to dish out bread to worshippers amid covid pandemic

In a world changed by social distancing, everyone is looking for new ways to keep the old traditions alive. 

That has sparked one vicar to come up with an inventive to give bread during Holy Communion.

Tapping into her Southeast Asian heritage, the Rev Eileen Harrop, who is vicar of St Mary’s in Gainford and St Andrew’s in Winston, County Durham, is using extra-long chopsticks to pass the bread to parishioners while maintaining social distancing. 

Rev Harrop, who left Singapore for the UK in 1979 and was ordained in 2012, has since administered the bread at the Eucharist at both of the churches she serves.

Tapping into her Southeast Asian heritage, the Rev Eileen Harrop, who is vicar of St Mary's in Gainford and St Andrew's in Winston, County Durham, is using extra-long chopsticks to pass the bread to parishioners while maintaining social distancing

Tapping into her Southeast Asian heritage, the Rev Eileen Harrop, who is vicar of St Mary’s in Gainford and St Andrew’s in Winston, County Durham, is using extra-long chopsticks to pass the bread to parishioners while maintaining social distancing

She said: ‘Many of my parishioners were quite anxious at the thought of taking communion, even though we are only permitted to do so under strict guidelines to ensure that there is no chance of transmission of the virus.

‘I thought ‘Why can’t I use a long pair of chopsticks, real bread rather than wafers, and drop it into the communicants’ hands?’

‘Administering the communion in this way ensures that there is no cross-contamination and my parishioners feel reassured and confident to take part.

‘It’s rather special that the long chopsticks I use are normally used for the festive occasion ‘Lo Hei’, meaning ‘stir the uplifted breath of life’.

‘They take on an even greater meaning used in this context.

‘This is a first for both churches, and perhaps a first in any parish church in the diocese.’

Rev Harrop came to Keele University in 1979 and met her husband of 35 years, Brian.

Rev Harrop, who left Singapore for the UK in 1979 and was ordained in 2012, has since administered the bread at the Eucharist at both of the churches she serves

Rev Harrop, who left Singapore for the UK in 1979 and was ordained in 2012, has since administered the bread at the Eucharist at both of the churches she serves

The couple moved to Singapore before relocating to the UK again in 1996, after which she was ordained in 2012.

The current Church of England Covid-19 advice for Holy Communion states that communicants should be offered only bread, not wine as there should be no ‘common cup’.

Mrs Harrop has been using chunkier bread rather than the traditional wafers for Communion as it is easier to grip.

The Eucharist is a key part of Christian worship and is celebrated around the world as a memorial of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The Church of England say the shared meal of bread and wine recalls Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, where he associated the breaking of bread and sharing of wine with his own imminent death. 

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