Episode 2: The Smell of the Crowd

Mihir Bose – former BBC Sports Editor, David Smith – Economics Editor of the Sunday Times and political commentator Nigel Dudley have been friends since they first met while working at Financial Weekly in 1980s. They have kept in touch regularly, setting the world to rights over various lunches and dinners. With coronavirus making that impossible, what do journalists do, deprived of long convivial lunches over a bottle of red wine or several? Why, podcast of course.

In the second episode of Three Old Hacks Mihir Bose, David Smith and Nigel Dudley discuss how professional sport is faring without a live audience – the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd – as the old joke goes. ‘Better maybe’ is their conclusion. More goals anyway.


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They look at how well or otherwise journalists have covered the pandemic. Their great friend Hugh Pym, the BBC Health Editor, with whom they often played cricket, has just won the prestigious Charles Wheeler Award for Broadcast Journalism. So which of their other colleagues have done the best job of bettering our understanding of the virus and all that it entails.

They discuss the online press briefings at Number 10 which have replaced real live press conferences, and evaluate how that has changed journalism. Will it ever go back to the cut and thrust of a real press event with the press pack picking up on each other’s questions, pressing politicians for answers?

And as the stop-start trade talks with the EU continue, or not, they chew over the Brexit debate and to what extent journalists are culpable for the country having made a momentous decision based on convincing arguments made by journalists that they themselves did not believe. Somehow the Bosman ruling and the ‘bisexuality of acting’ (a concept expounded by theatre critic Michael Billingdon) get into the discussion.

Not sure we’d say they’d ‘put the world to rights’ exactly, but they give it a good go.

Listen to the previous episode here or the next episode here

Get in contact with the podcast by emailing threeoldhacks@outlook.com, we’d love to hear from you!