I don’t suppose those journalists who were obliged to re-hash a story out of Ab Fab and Little Voice actress Jane Horrocks’s interview in the new edition of Radio Times, imagined this would be their fate when they first made it into national newspapers.
Horrocks was drumming up publicity for a supermarket-based sitcom Trollied soon to be launched on Sky.
The 10 year-long Tesco advertising campaign where Horrocks played Prunella Scales’s long suffering daughter was an understandable kicking off point.
Not so obvious was the unflattering remarks she made about her former paymaster, whose cheques helped so much to buy her luxury London home that she nicknamed it ‘Tesco Towers.'
I’ll spare the blushes of the online reporters by not naming them. They were probably obeying orders; in the past a press release had been the inspiration of plenty of my City stories; in any case properly reported there was a good punch-up to be had by pitting Horrocks against Tesco.
She told Radio Times the supermarket’s money had meant she had been able to avoid “crap” acting jobs. But according to AOL Lifestyle UK, she avoided the actual stores.
"There's always a set type of people doing their shopping according to the time or the day, whether it's pensioners holding everyone up or screeching kids,” she said, adding, "Or sometimes you can have rather a lot of chavs in, and that gets a bit scary."
I apologise if I missed it but not a single journalist seems to have had the chance to tear themselves away from the Radio Times article to ring the Tesco Press office for a comment.
Indeed only the Daily Mail and the Daily Mirror thought the chav remark worthy of reporting. At the last count the Mail’s online story attracted 230 mostly irritated comments from readers.
Perhaps the ‘quality’ titles are too snooty for their own readers’ good. The Guardian’s version focused on Horrocks's low opinion of television’s weak drama output, while the Daily Telegraph thought fit to highlight the actress’s vow to never act in a Shakespearean play because the Bard is “inaccessible” to modern audiences.
Trivial in itself, the re-jig of the Horrocks interview exposes some unhealthy journalistic practices for which I blame time and staffing pressures without, admittedly, knowing the set-ups in any of the newspapers.
I believe all things being equal, the writers know it would have been better to interview Horrocks for themselves, put her views to Tesco, and test out responses both in in-store vox pops and with market researchers.
It’s a slippery slope. One minute you might be regurgitating a Radio Times interview, the next it might be taking a new ‘dodgy dossier’ at face value.