Monday, October 01, 2007

Ned Sherrin

I don't go in for oozing sentiment. In fact, I distrust people who do, believing it to be another of the stock reactions the media teaches us to exhibit at any moment of sadness. We are told how to feel, rather than feeling our feelings naturally. However, the death of Ned Sherrin needs something saying that’s akin to sentiment because, on hearing the news, I was struck by a sadness that isn't easy to describe.

I suppose it is a sense of loss. The death of a big star is often accompanied by surprise that death could touch an untouchable. The passing of a less well known name is somehow more personal. Less familiar to our everyday thoughts, these are the men and women who we haven taken a little for granted. Yet, paradoxically, we remember them more for themselves than we remember them for their fame.

Sherrin was one such man. He personified wit, culture, and good natured banter while remaining an ever-present example of something better on TV, even when TV was bad. To say he was a modern Noel Coward is perhaps to do both he and Coward a disservice. It’s too glib a comment, too easy a comparison. Yet if I am to describe him in terms of similarities, I might say that he was the man Stephen Fry aspires to be, only with Sherrin in never seemed like a front. He was who he was and his wit was inherent to his person.

TV is slowly losing these figures who don’t occupy centre stage but are just as important to our cultural life. The ‘professional guest’ has given way to something less mannered and certainly less refined. We are no longer privileged to hear anecdotes properly told. We instead have prepared stories and wit is being slowly replaced by vulgarity which has always been its cheaper alternative. One requires finesse, the other bravery. Finesse is difficult and needs dedication, bravery just requires desperation. Today's media breeds nothing but desperate people, holding grimly onto fame with each outrage. Calm, assured, and with an interesting story to tell, Sherrin never appeared to be desperate for attention. He was just there. I glad he was. And I’m sad he’s gone.


Clair said...

how very true. The fact that he didn't spring from mummy's womb wanting to be on The X-Factor, or host T4 made that generation of presenter different, and you felt that they thought they were lucky to have their jobs, not that it was their god-given right, the bastards.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Mr Dale - Certainly his presence will be sorely missed on 'Loose Ends' on Saturday afternoons.