The Ballade of the Bored Presenter

– (C) BBC – Photographer: Rolf Marriott

I’m reposting this piece I did about GK Chesterton, John Humphries and Thought for the day as part of the little poem I wrote in response to an article in the Radio Times has now found its way into the Radio Times, courtesy of Giles Fraser. so here it is again for any RT readers who would like the whole poem!

  Chesterton would have been a perfect contributor to the Today Program’s ‘Thought For the Day’ His wit, originality, brilliant shifts of perspective, his whole dazzling combination of absurdity and grace would have been perfect for it. But no doubt even if the great man had been at his coruscating best in the Today Studio, John Humphrys would have been as smug and condescending to Chesterton as he has been to the likes of John Bell and Jonathan Sacks, the great communicators of our day, and declared himself to be ‘bored’. Why? Because its ‘religion’ and we all know, without needing to know anything about any religion, that ‘religion is boring’.  Humphrys’ unfortunate and graceless tirade against Thought for the Day, published in this week’s Radio Times has met with a brilliant and considered response by Nick Baines, a TFTD contributor, in his excellent blog ‘Musings of a Restless Bishop. It was interesting to note that Archbishop Justin Welby also responded warmly to Nick’s piece and praised him for it.

Nick Baines deals with the substantive points, but though I don’t usually go in for topical satire, I wondered what GKC, in his mishcevious Ballade-making mode, would have made of all this and have composed, in his spirit, the following Ballade of  the Bored Presenter. As usual you can hear me read it by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button.


Ballade of the Bored Presenter


Thought For The Day! let it begin!

My new perspective on today

Three minutes on the state we’re in

A breath of spirit through the clay

A chance for those to have their say

On whom such constant scorn is poured

We listen, lifted on our way,

Except John Humphrys who is bored


For after all the slant and spin

The petty postures and display,

Two second sound bites, bleak and thin

We yearn for thought, Thought For The Day

Jonathan Sacks shows Wisdom’s way

And John Bell rings a rousing chord

We all find courage for the fray

Except John Humphrys, who is bored


They don’t have any votes to win

Or points to score on polling day

They simply know the place you’re in

And stand with you and help you  pray.

Some thoughts may fly and some may stay

And some we stand up and applaud

And some we grapple with all day,

Except John Humphrys who is bored


Prince you have spoken of the day

When Gates will open wide and broad

And we’ll ascend that splendid way

Except John Humphrys who’ll be bored.


Filed under imagination

13 responses to “The Ballade of the Bored Presenter

  1. Gwen Adshead

    Thank you, thank you, thank you

  2. Eileen Pheiffer

    Thank you for my mid afternoon hearty laugh. You often make me smile and sometimes bring a tear to my eye, but never leave me as John Humphrys, bored.

  3. Roger Cresswell

    Malcolm, quick question – are you old Habs?

    Blessings and thanks for your inspirational work.


  4. Karole Webster

    Excellent Malcolm. Also Giles Fraser’s article.

  5. Lesley Hay

    Humphreys can’t bear anyone else to have airtime that he could be filling with his opinionated smugness

  6. Helen Cameron

    Clever and fun. Thanks for the entertainment. Helen, IBVM in Toronto – celebrating Mary Ward’s birthday today.

  7. bgulland72

    brilliant. I also tweeted Giles to praise him for his recent TFTD actually embracing the good side of ‘boredom’ and the church as a last bastion of places where we may be still and not bombarded with stimuli…

  8. Diane thurman

    😂. You started my day with a smile!

  9. Lisa Ohlund

    Thank you for my ‘Smile for the Day.’

  10. I so have to re-blog and share!! Love it!

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