The Truth About Richard and Judy
In a nutshell: Daytime royalty get Kitty Kelley lite treatment from Channel 5
The 411: In lampooning Richard and Judy you’re not really being an iconoclast you’re more taking part in the national sport. If you haven’t told the water cooler crew about the latest stupid thing Richard has said, or done your Shakin’ Judy impersonation then, frankly, you can’t call yourself British. There’s an argument for having this requirement on the new citizenship test
Channel 5’s hatchet-job was more of a light going over. The most damning accusation being that This Morning had a high turnover of overstressed researchers and producers. Many refused to take part – not, the narrative implied, because they had better things to do, but because of the vice-like grip of fear Richard and Judy have on them. You break the This Morning omerta at your peril.
Their fateful meeting at Granada, the adulterous affair and eventual marriage were all covered – with an entertaining eyewitness account from Tony Wilson. No bitter exes came forward to give their version of the break-up, presumably terrified of reprisals from Madeley and Finnegan, the Kray twins of daytime telly.
Richard was portrayed as pathologically ambitious. This is not quite accurate – he is more a force of nature. He is no more predictable than a hurricane, possessed by voices to say the most inappropriate thing at the most inopportune time possible. It’s a tribute to his skill as a broadcaster that his career has lasted this long.
There is nobody who can talk himself into and out of trouble with such aplomb. And you know perfectly well that it’s because he’s been doing it all his life – like some vodka-blitzed teenage joyrider Richard drives up more conceptual cul-de-sacs than any other interviewer around before always producing the miraculous handbrake turn to drive right out again before the subject can realise the colossal stupidity of the original question.
"Richard drives up more conceptual cul-de-sacs than any other interviewer around …."
Watching Madeley in action puts you in mind of one of Chris Morris’s spoof interviews – getting to the end through sheer momentum and improvisational skill. He creates associations with language that never existed previously. As interviewers go, he is the avant-garde. Non-sequiturs rain down like so much confetti – it’s free association psychotherapy crossed with OK! magazine.
Only Madeley could come up with ‘You Say We Pay’ where they play charades with their viewers over the phone and pay them £1,000 for every correct answer. Richard, naturally enough, is a genius at this: ("Lobster! Julie Christie! Telephone box!") cheating furiously as the clock ticks down.
Then there’s Judy – poor, pissed Judy – exasperated by her over enthusiastic husband always willing to dish out her sweetness and wisdom. Destined to play the straight man, finding that reigning Richard in at every opportunity draws the focus away from her own rather dadaesque way of looking at the world.
Perhaps her good fortune is to have found somebody more strange than herself to spend her personal and professional life with. Although every woman you speak to wonders "how does she put up with him?" only a fool would suggest that they don’t make a good team.
And that’s the ultimate unpalatable truth about Richard and Judy. The two are clearly in love and excellent at their jobs. That is their real crime. Unforgivable.
The best thing about it: the early 80s local news footage and attendant fashion disasters
The worst thing about it: Fred the weatherman’s last minute withdrawal (living in fear, apparently)
The verdict on The Truth About Richard and Judy: "…coming up we’ve got Raj Persaud who will be asking why girls called Melanie are so depressed, we’ll be talking to the newly-crowned Cornish Pasty Queen and Margaret from Buckinghamshire will be playing You Say We Pay – don’t go away….."
Marks out of 10: 7