I've just seen something I'd pretty much given up hope of seeing on free-to-air TV (or virtually any TV): a perfectly normal-looking 57-year-old woman with long grey hair and no obvious make-up, fronting a popular TV series.Mary Beard is the Cambridge classics professor who wrote and presented Meet the Romans, three brilliant hour-long programmes on Ancient Rome. It ran on the BBC last year to great acclaim, and is now on Choice TV (Channel 12) at 7.30 pm on Mondays (it started tonight, 21 January).
But hold on - I might have known she wasn't going to get away with such an extraordinary achievement. Looking her up on Google, I found that two idiots have apparently attacked her for being "too ugly" to be on TV. One was the widely derided Samantha "I'm so pretty other women hate me" Brick - enough said. The other, who really should have known better, was columnist A.A.Gill.
Prof. Beard's response was superb - please read it all. With pinpoint accuracy, she said she was “too brainy for men who fear
clever women”. “It seems a straight case of pandering to the blokeish culture that
loves to decry clever women, especially ones who don’t succumb to the masochism
of Botox and have no interest in dyeing their hair. It’s a case of mistaking prejudice for being witty and provocative. And it’s
very easy to find yourself thinking: ‘What an odious little twit!’”