By Michael Aspel

All right Parkie, how are things? Good, good. Caught your radio show at the weekend, it was great. And how’s the wife? Great news.

Now listen here, Parkie, we need to talk. There’s something I’ve got to say to you.

For a long time now I’ve been thinking about how much you and I have in common, and how that’s both a good thing – and a bad thing.

For example, you and I are both men of the world who’ve been round the block our fair share of times. We’ve carved out distinguished careers in British television, which is as we know the best in the world.

We’ve both bought a breath of fresh air to previously stuffy genres while adding a touch of gravitas to more lightweight, frothy affairs.

We’ve been a friend to the stars without letting that cloud our journalistic integrity, occasionally agreeing to sponsor the "right" product in order to live a more comfortable life. We’ve grown into much loved uncles for the nation, soothing their brows with our sparkling repartee, providing comfort and reassurance in troubled times.

Were the similarities to end there, I don’t for a moment suppose that there would be any major problems. You and I could happily co-exist in perfect harmony; maybe even host a one-off light entertainment spectacular or charity telethon together.

Alas, that is never to be, for we both know that to do so would be an act of incredible folly. For there are two further similarities between us that just take things too damn far.

Take your name, for one thing: Michael. It comes from the Hebrew Miyka'el, meaning "Who is God?" which in my case, is quite apt. In the right hands, it’s a great first name, one of the very best. Put Michael next to a certain kind of surname and sparks fly: Ball? Yes. Crawford? Of course! Aspel? Certainly. But Parkinson? All wrong. It exudes an air of amateurish half-heartedness, of slipshod sloppiness, of impotent incontinence.

Secondly, there’s the hair. A silvery grey mane can be very, very distinguished (see Aspel), denoting age and experience alongside a certain rakish devil-may-care attitude. However, on the wrong person it’s just grey, drab and makes you look like you’re dying. For every Snow, Ravanelli, or Aspel, there’s a Major, Schofield or Parkinson.

Basically, there isn’t enough room in British broadcasting for two silver-haired Michaels, so one of us has got to go. What happens when I present you with the red book on This is Your Life? – people won’t know who’s who. What about when you have me on your talk show? (Why the hell not?) And perish the thought that I should ever get struck by Parkinson’s! That J Fox business was confusing enough!

So the silver Michael who has to go is obviously you. You’re all wrong. Your name doesn’t suit you, nor does your hair. That’s two strikes – you’re out.

I, on the other hand, am in every way a silver-haired Michael of the first order, and everyone knows it. I bring a natural energy to the role that few can match.

Seeing as I dominate my name and hair colour so majestically, I think you should change yours. You could become a dusky James or a raven-haired Robert. That ‘s up to you; I wouldn’t dare presume to be so arrogant as to tell you what to do with your own name and hair. But do it fast, before any more damage is done.

In case you’re feeling a little hard done by, I think you should know you’re not the only silver-haired Michael in broadcasting that I’ve got my eye on.

I’d always liked Michael Barrymore, a gay little cockney sparrow. In no way did his knockabout physical comedy and mincing manner pose any sort of threat to my more serious TV persona. Furthermore, his shock of jet-black hair was if anything a lovely reminder of how we TV presenters can be all the non-colours of the rainbow.

In the past few years, however, things have greatly changed. Ever since that poor butcher was found in his pool, buggered senseless, Barrymore has been an outcast in British television, a disgraced pariah, and his hair is beginning to tell the tale. That dark thatch is rapidly greying around the temples, and eager to look suitably penitent, Barrymore has been nowhere near the Grecian 2000. Worse, there has recently been talk of him having a comeback, with a new kind of show. What if it’s more serious? It beggars belief.

I also just want to say: Palin, stick to the travelogues. Caine, you’re a great actor, but do you really think you could read an autocue? Yeah, right! Buerk, your weighty tone is right for news, but interviewing Nina Myskow, you’d be fucked.

No, I’m British broadcasting’s premier silver-haired Michael. The rest of you can fuck off.


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