Wednesday, 26 January 2011


Melv six months ago

And in the current Sky Arts ad for the South Bank Show Awards

Forgive me. I know that to write the words "Melvyn Bragg" and "hair" in the same sentence is to revive a national obsession that has become a cliche, but the current ad campaign for the South Bank Show Awards is... well... shocking.
Melv is older. There's no doubt about that. But his hair is younger.
I listen to Bragg's radio show In Our Time every week and have a vast archive of them on my iPod. They are my go-to if I'm stuck in traffic or on a long dogwalk by myself. Recently, I've even become addicted to his In Our Time newsletters, a delicious ramble through this man's vast brain as he winds his way - most usually - from the BBC studios to the House Of Lords where he gets stuck into Matters of the Day. He's like a character from a Trollope novel.
In other words, I'm a huge fan.
Which is why this Sky pic, his hair unnaturally dark, upsets me. Is it Melv's fault, or the photographer's? Is Bragg trying to recapture his youth? Has he become a victim of the diktat that only spritely, nubile young things can appear on our screens. The same illogic that has gifted us Julia Bradbury and the Sky Sports News team.
I hope not.
I asked a friend recently what I should do about my own thinning top. He shrugged and said: Go with it. Do NOTHING. I've decided that's good advice. My wife seems all right with it too (she's stopped crying herself to sleep) though she insists on me taking a daily dose of Kelp.
Speaking of my wife, she is convinced David Cameron is now dyeing his greying sideburns back to brown (I'd need to see the pics to be sure). And I'm only just over the shock of seeing Elton John back on the cover of OK. So has Melv succumbed to a Male Zeitgeist of Hair Despair? Has the recession caused a follicle frenzy?
My advice: stick to the radio Melv. Then no one need even know. 

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