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Beef Of The Week #427: Richard Ashcroft v Breakfast TV etiquette

By | Published on Friday 26 October 2018

Richard Ashcroft on BBC Breakfast

Breakfast TV serves a very specific purpose. It needs to appear to be providing the viewer with a range of interesting insights into topics from politics to entertainment. However, it’s very important that it actually provides almost no stimulation whatsoever.

It should send people out into their commutes and working days like calm blocks of ice, floating around gently, slowly thawing into their true state as the morning progresses. Life outside those few moments with your TV in the morning is stimulating enough, why enter that outside world already agitated and with thoughts racing?

Of course, sometimes this convention is broken. Due to a clerical error, ITV has accidentally been putting Piers Morgan on its early morning TV show ‘Good Morning Britain’ for three years now, ensuring plenty of unnecessary stimulation, and not the good kind either. And then there was that whole thing in the 90s with ‘The Big Breakfast’ on Channel 4.

BBC One has the formula done to a T though. To the point that on its HD channel, the local news slots are replaced by distant crowd noise and the sound of waves. Sure, they claim this is due to some technical reason, but I really think it’s better.

However, the BBC can’t always be a haven of calm, even if that’s the format the programme strives for. Because it insists on having guests pop in to talk about all the uninteresting things they’ve been up to. And this week saw the most rousing ‘BBC Breakfast’ interview since that time Kevin Hart came on to promote ‘Ride Along’ nearly five years ago.

Yesterday, former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft appeared in order to promote his new album and tour dates. Well I assume that was the purpose. It was quite a chaotic interview.

He started by informing any children watching that, as it is currently half term, they should “stop eating those grapes – and any other cereal”. So that’s already turned the world upside down. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, of course, and even during school holidays. And also, grapes aren’t cereal.

Whatever, with that message delivered, Ashcroft announced that the interview could commence. So, co-host Naga Munchetty asked what he was doing wearing sunglasses indoors first thing in the morning. He gave the obvious answer – that it was religious attire.

“I am the only one on the couch who can wear sunglasses right now”, he said. “And also”, he went on, “when music becomes almost a religion – rock n roll is like a religion – don’t ever question one of the key attributes. And it’s very early”.

He returned to this theme later, after the programme had broken away to a clip. Returning to the studio, Ashcroft appeared now lying across the sofa, seemingly mid-flow, explaining: “We’ve been on the nightshift in the music industry for a while, as you’d imagine. So another great thing about the glasses is, I can cover up the fact that I’m getting a bit Nancy Reagan at the moment under here at this time of the day. Seriously. I need an iron on these”.

The show’s other host, Charlie Stayt, added that he wouldn’t be able to pull off a polo neck, like Ashcroft was. “Exactly”, the musician agreed. “Well, sometimes life feels like ‘The Truman Show'”, he went on, climbing over the back of the sofa.

Arms outstretched, he walked up to a screen showing the Manchester skyline on the backdrop behind the sofa. “I just want to say hello to Manchester”, he announced, before walking into the screen, proclaiming: “It is ‘The Truman Show’!”

I think the screen is supposed to look like a window. Maybe Ashcroft just isn’t aware of how windows work. Actually, he was just trying to bring the interview around to his new album, ‘Natural Rebel’, possibly concerned that the entire conversation was going to be about this outfit. “[The album is] about breaking the order of things”, he explained.

“This is your new album”, said Munchetty, playing along, “which has been critically received very, very nicely”.

“Has it?!” blurted Ashcroft. Then, remembering that he’d had more reviews than the one in the NME that caused him to burn an old copy of the magazine, he added: “Only by good looking people. I have never had a bad review off a good looking person”.

Next, in what appears to have been an attempt to get him to share some anecdotes about the good old days, Ashcroft was shown a picture of him headlining Glastonbury with The Verve all the way back in 2008.

Asked if he had happy memories of that time, he thought for a moment before agreeing that he did, but then he added that he felt that “the myth and the name [of Glastonbury] have grown to such a proportion that they sell out before they’ve even told people what the acts are”, admitting that he felt this had “taken away from the power of the music”.

“Is Glastonbury bigger than the acts now?” he asked. Before anyone could respond, he shrugged, “I don’t know”.

So, there you go, having agitated and excited everyone by putting his dirty shoes on a nice clean sofa and then lying down on it – not to mention all the other antics – he left everyone with a question to ponder. Quiet Ashcroft! There are no questions. Not first thing in the morning. No thinking in the morning, that’s the rule. Only the illusion of thinking.

This isn’t the first time Ashcroft has caused a stir on morning TV recently, of course. Last month, appearing on Sky Sports’ ‘Soccer AM’ – while he was climbing down off another sofa – one viewer noticed something fall out of his trouser leg, posting a video of this on Twitter.

Many, including the original poster, suggested that it was a small bag of illegal drugs. In a subsequent video on Instagram, informing “trolls on Twitter” that they were “on thin ice”, Ashcroft had a different explanation.

“My dad didn’t like litter and I don’t really like litter”, he said. “But it gets a bit preposterous in my pocket. In The Verve I was known as Columbo. So get your facts right”. I hope that cleared up all the facts. But if it didn’t, it’s alright, Ashcroft came up with a new explanation this week.

Speaking to LadBible, he said: “I don’t know how many national publications printed a picture that someone had sent in from online. It’s strange when you have been in the game this long that this idea would take place. But to see the effects of a doctored photograph by an individual, who we don’t know who it is. But believe you me, you are going to regret doing that, whoever you are”.

So, I think, after all of this, we can probably all agree that Richard Ashcroft should have his own breakfast TV show. Conventions be damned!