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BBC's Michael Buerk blasted for calling Tess Daly a 'bird brain' in blistering attack on 'airhead colleagues'BBC veteran criticised for 'personal attack' on Strictly presenter Tess DalyMr Buerk slammed BBC's coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant in a Mail on Sunday article calling it 'cringingly inept'
00:15 GMT, 31 December 2012
BBC veteran Michael Buerk was criticised last night for describing Tess Daly as ‘a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly Come Dancing’.
While many agreed with his view that BBC coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee river pageant was ‘cringingly inept’, they said it was wrong to single out presenters rather than bosses.
Others took to the internet to describe his remarks in a Mail on Sunday article – which saw him call the presenters ‘airheads’ – as cruel and accused him of being grumpy.
'Ashamed of the BBC 'Michael Buerk called presenter Tess Daly 'a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly'
In an end-of-year comment piece, the 66-year-old former newsreader argued that the spectacle of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee was ‘betrayed’ by the BBC’s dumbed-down coverage.
‘The one enduring British institution [the Monarchy] was mocked by another that had shamefully lost its way,’ he wrote. ‘On the screen, a succession of Daytime airheads preened themselves, or gossiped with even more vacuous D-list “celebrities”. With barely an exception, they were cringingly inept.’
He then focused on Miss Daly’s talent as a news presenter. He said: ‘The Dunkirk Little Ships, the most evocative reminders of this country’s bravest hour, were ignored so that a pneumatic bird-brain from Strictly Come Dancing could talk to transvestites in Battersea Park.
‘I was so ashamed of the BBC I would have wept if I hadn’t been so angry. The worst thing was that it was deliberate – planned that way to be “light” and “inclusive”.’
Some critics said while they agreed with his analysis, they objected to what they saw as a personal attack on Miss Daly.
Just not good enough: Michael Buerk was highly critical of the BBC's coverage of the Diamond Jubilee – which included Tess Daly
One wrote on the BBC’s Points Of View message board: ‘I did agree … but was mystified as to why it was mainly aimed at the indians instead of the chiefs.’
Another said while it was ‘generally agreed’ the BBC ‘failed miserably’ in the coverage, to turn it into an attack on the presenters rather than those in charge was ‘wrong’.
One responded on Twitter: ‘There is no need to be cruel about Tess Daly.’ But there was a lot of support for his view that presenters such as Miss Daly and Fearne Cotton had not been right for the event.
In an interview with another Sunday paper, BBC presenter Clare Balding admitted the ‘light entertainment’ feel of the River Pageant had been wrong. ‘We want to be informed and interested, we want presenters who are well-prepared and know their stuff,’ she said.
‘Yes, the BBC should entertain, but in doing so they’d moved too far from their remit to educate, too, and viewers didn’t like it.’
Miss Daly was unavailable for comment yesterday.