David Bowie: the man who started it all.
The Bay City Rollers
Prince charming in the shape of Adam Ant
Garry no longer Glitters.
Boy George in his sartorial heyday.
There was a time when it was only performers in the pop world who made deeply embarrassing fashion mistakes. I’m thinking here of the ’70s and ’80s. They were quickly followed by the disc jockeys, who, bathing in the reflective glory of their rock and roll masters, started to appear on television looking ridiculous…
The least said about this despicable man the better.
But most other individuals involved in television presenting tended to be kitted out on the lower slopes of sartorial sensationalism…
In his ‘everyone’s favourite uncle’ outfit, John Betjeman was perfectly pitched for his television appearances in the ’60s and ’70s.
When John Betjeman made his famous British Transport Filmseries, he dressed in his own everyday attire, often topped off with a rather shabby looking mackintosh or trilby hat. But it didn’t distract from his brilliance.
Originally Michael Portillo presented the series in a fairly conservative mode.
Contrast that with the more recent Michael Portillo series Great British Railway Journeys. We see him wandering around clutching his precious Bradshaw railway guide close to his chest like a Gideon’s bible. When the series started, he was dress in a relatively low-key way. However, halfway through the series, something strange started to happen. Brightly coloured shirts became the order of the day.
As the series developed into Great Continental Railway Journeys, Portillo started to wear rather bizarre colour combinations of jackets, shirts, trousers and socks, so much so that I became more transfixed with his dress code than with the journeys and scenes he was describing.
One wonders who advises these presenters on matters of styling. In the case of Portillo, someone is surly sending him up. I can imagine it – Producer: “Michael, I think the lilac jacket and lime-green shirt will work really well.” Out of earshot, directed to the cameraman: “He fell for it again, Charlie.”
Portillo in his true clours
It amuses me how this clamouring to become a ‘character’ through fashion is increasing – mostly in middle-aged men – across the board and is no longer the bastion of the young.
The original presenters of the Antiques Roadshow were rather sober in their dress code, like the red-faced, rotund figure of the late Arthur Negus, whose point of difference was his down-to-earth Berkshire accent. But, over the years, the presenters on this programme have not only got increasingly posher, looking down their noses in mild disgust at the hoarding middle classes who hope to be told that their heirlooms are worth £50,000, but have also become far more garish in their dress code.
Arthur Negus in his old tweeds.
They are now desperately attempting to ‘brand’ themselves with an array of trappings from bow ties to fake tans, from veneers and brightly coloured waistcoats to novelty spectacles: all to elevate themselves to ‘personality’ status.
The Antiques Roadshow's Paul Atterbury
Mr perma-tan David Dickinson presenter of Bargin Hunt
Here are some presenters from the past and more recent prize peacocks...
The architectural critic Ian Nairn was totally disinterested in his onscreen appearance in Nairn across Britain (1972).
Kenneth Clark allowed the world be the star rather than himself in BBC’s Civilization in 1969.
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen: he no doubt wore his outfits to detract from the dreadful interiors that he created during the run of Changing Rooms.
The former TV horse-racing pundit JohnMcCririck must take the prize for wearing the most ridiculous outfits.
The kings of the fashion world are in a league of their own. The Nazi-ranting pirate John Galliano.
And Harry Hill lookalike Karl Lagerfeld.
Long before Sarah Lund’s jumper became famous in The Killing, we had Gyles Brandreth’s monstrosities on TV-am in the ’80s.
Just one of the many horrors worn by Brandreth while on TVAM
Braces became the branding device of Ground Force’s Tommy Walsh.
Meanwhile, Tommy’s Ground Force co-presenter Charlie Dimmock had two other distinguishing presentation points that she used to great effect, cheering up many an ageing gardener.
The darling transvestite of the art establishment, Grayson Perry.
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