Phew. It’s been a busy week in the bearded universe – we’re feeling pretty worn out after ‘peak-beard gate‘.
We decided to take some time off blogging and ask Keith Flett, the organiser of The Beard Liberation Front, to pen us his opinions on another recent beard-related story: Jeremy Paxman taking a show about beards to Edinburgh. We hope you enjoy his musings on the subject below.
Jeremy Paxman & Pogonophobes: turning rebellion into money
For those who unaccountably missed it, a brief recap.
During his summer holiday in 2013 BBC Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman grew a beard. This is far from unknown amongst presenters. For example the former Newsnight economics correspondent Paul Mason (now at Channel 4 News) could often be spotted with a full beard when not on air.
The difference is that when Paxman returned to New Broadcasting House to present Newsnight again he decided to keep the beard. Cue media frenzy and a Paxman accusation of pogonophobia the BBC.
To his credit Paxman kept the beard and even grew it a little for several months.
However, come the next break from Newsnight at Christmas 2013 the beard was shaved off. And when Paxman returned to the programme in January 2014 he was back to his clean shaven self. He has remained so to date.
More recently Paxman announced that he is to present a one man show at the Edinburgh Festival fringe in August. The show to be called Paxo will apparently feature his thoughts on the ‘human condition’ on pogonophobia and underpants (it may be recalled that he feels the quality of male undergarments at M&S are not what they were).
What is the view of the Beard Liberation Front, the informal network of beard wearers of which I’m the organiser, on all this?
We don’t really know why the Paxman beard went. Was it as a result of whispering campaign by clean shaven suits at NBH? After all Paxman was the only news anchor to have a beard and of TV reporters only Nick Higham is currently hirsute. That does suggest prejudice.
Of course the BLF supports Jeremy Paxman’s right to have a beard or be clean shaven as he chooses.
However his decision to shave the beard having been a standard bearer for the hirsute in public life and various rather uncomplimentary comments he made about beards in the process did not sit well.
His one man show at Edinburgh does look a bit like an attempt to turn rebellion into money.
Assuming that the show is packed out and turns a profit, perhaps Paxman could disarm critics like myself by stating now that any proceeds will go to one of the organisations – the NUJ would be as good as any – that spends its time trying to ensure that the media is a bit fairer about things in general than it currently often is.
Do you guys agree? Tell us what you think of Keith’s post via @BeardedLondon or in the comments below.
The Beard Liberation Front is the UK’s informal network of beard wearers. You can read Keith’s blog about all things beardy here. You can also click here to check out the infographic we made with the Liberation Front’s help.