I feel a touch of tabloid fatigue coming on. The symptoms include sighing deeply and muttering ‘Oh come ON!’ repeatedly. It’s a familiar end-of-silly-season complaint and generally only lasts a morning or two. The Daily Mirror is responsible for my current attack. This paper has a reputation for NOT exactly being a founder-member of the Anthea Turner Fan Club, so the way they spun the not-terribly-interesting story of a peeved charity looking for another patron to help them raise funds (‘DUMPED’) was hardly a surprise.
Apparently Mrs Grant Bovey agreed, under who-knows-what subtle emotional pressure, to help a hospice in her home town of Stoke-on-Trent, and was then unable to attend a couple of functions because, wait for it, she was WORKING ON A TV SHOW. Well, yes, that’s why she was their patron. She’s a TV presenter. Why on earth The Daily Mirror thinks voluntary work should take moral precedence over work-work beats me. It’s not as though Anthea’s a nun. I think the charity has made a serious error in presenting itself as a hard-done-by victim of celebrity’s diary decisions. The fact that they even had permission to use her name and face was remarkably generous, and you don’t ‘sack’ charity patrons; you use your skill and judgement and an ounce of political savvy behind the scenes to suggest politely that perhaps… etc. etc.
But the ripples of such overkill have far-reaching ramifications which could do untold damage to charities right across the country, by putting people in the tabloid eye off helping them. Besides which, damage is something charities need like Wayne Rooney needs another exposé in the Sundays.
You see, if fame, distinction or notoriety has come your way and a charity asks you to use that celebrity to help them out, the natural inclination is to agree, provided the demands on your time appear manageable, and there’s no risk of any penalty or ‘quid pro quo’ attitude manifesting itself should ‘events happen’ or things crop up.
When Jane Tewson took hold of Charity Projects at the beginning of the 1980s (they run Red Nose Day and have Richard Curtis on board) a new spirit of giving was taken up by a new generation to whom it was a novelty. This was the movement which gave us Live Aid, Band Aid, and all the others. Even that infuriating one-eyed bear on the BBC.
But now we’re told we suffer from ‘Charity Fatigue’ and have lost the adrenaline rush of succumbing to Sting or Madge’s tunes and reading our credit card number down the phone. With the tabloid outrageand holier-than-thou attitude it’s hardly surprising.
Get to the end of the piece and, a bit late in the day, you learn that Anthea and her husband have just raised £100,000 for another pair of charities she’s agreed to support, DEBRA and CHASE, for skin disease and a children’s hospice respectively. Obviously they’ve got better PRs working for them. Roll on September.