The people who run Britain's television networks have just had a nasty shock. Some very detailed research has just proved what I and Melissa and Dan Rather and anyone at CBS could have told them for nothing ....that what viewers really value from their anchors are knowledge, intelligence, credibility and professionalism.
It probably helps if you don't look like the back end of a truck, or have four eyes, but brains before beauty is what the customer wants. And you'll all shrug your shoulders and say, yes, so what's the fuss about.
Well I'll tell you, with all the knowledge, intelligence, credibility and professionalism at my command: the fuss, ladies and gentleman, is that here in Britain many of the people who now run TV networks are just in their thirties, never made a TV show in their lives, probably trained as boring accountants, and have got it into their thick skulls that the only people who watch TV are the young. Consequently the only people you see on mainstream TV are also young. In fact some of the anchors are so young that you wonder how they get through the newscasts without a change of diaper, let alone understand big words...like diaper. Yet who watches the most TV? Older folks of course.
In Britain the over 55s watch an average of four hours and twenty one minutes a day. The over 65s watch five hours and fourteen minutes. And frankly they're so hacked off with seeing fresh faced inexperienced children on the screen; it's a miracle of hope over expectation that they bother watching so much youth-orientated garbage for so long. Do TV networks care about their biggest audiences? Apparently not, or not enough. Because those same senior citizens said they were totally ignored and their views misrepresented by British TV. What does it matter how physically attractive the newscaster is, male or female ... only five percent thought it mattered at all. Who cares if the anchors are fashionable - only three percent.
So what do my good friends, those dumb-brained accountants who run British TV, do? They go out and hire another batch of youngsters. I have to tell you this is really happening. It's true. Whenever I appear on British TV, I always dye my hair or put a paper bag over my head. So, America, thanks for your open-minded attitude to those of us with the odd wrinkle.
And - Up to the Minute - thanks for having me.