Sunday, 26 September 2010

Victoria Coren: I Salute You.

I love telly.  I’m not ashamed to say it.  There is something quite comforting about that glowing box in the corner. It has been there always and long may it be the hand that guides me through those “what to do, what to do” moments (as well as those “I really should be blogging/cleaning/cooking/moving moments).  But like any relationship it also has the capacity to make me rage.  There is such utter guff on at the moment, fronted by the same vacuous personas.  Presenters seem to have been punched out in some glamour factory with big hair, big boob, big teeth cookie cutters.  Anything interesting, quirky or clever seems to have been cast aside.  There are two offenders high on my list.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone when I say I’m sick to the back teeth of these two:

Look at them, no don’t.  It’s too horrible.  These two have been the bane of my television viewing since they heaved their monstrous “I’m just like your best friend” nonsense onto my screen.  They embody all that depresses me about broadcasting at the moment.  First there is Fearne, with her unbearable desperation to be cool. I almost feel sorry for her, she has the ability to be mince in everything. Did you see those interviews she did for ITV2?  Yikes. why were they allowed to be aired? . And then there is Holly, who reminds me of those big breasted titbits of the 1970s who soul purpose was to turn playing cards over for Bruce Forsyth.  I have yet to see evidence of anything going on behind those big, sad and bewildered looking eyes. 

But enough about them, this isn’t a post about people I don’t like on television.  It’s a post about someone who I adore on television and who should be on it a lot more: Victoria Coren.

Vicky Coren03

Her face on my screen is always the most welcome sight.  She makes me throw my arms up into to air and run through the nearest field singing gloriously from the bottom of my heart:

"FINALLY ! Thank you, thank you, thank you!" 

Television (at last!) has a young woman fronting witty, clever and entertaining programmes who also has the gall to be stupendously sexy.  I’m going to refrain from using that hideous and patronising cliché “thinking man’s crumpet” because frankly she deserves more.  She deserves a much higher accolade than that, and I may by poking my head above the parapet here, but here goes.

There aren’t many people alive today who I rate in the same league as Stephen Fry.  Those I do, tend to share a significant amount of DNA with me.  I am by no means the only person who feels this way.  As a bookseller I spend a considerable amount of each day discussing his genius with people.  One topic that often comes up is “who do you think will be the next Stephen Fry?” Because everyone knows, when something good comes along we all have to agree on who will replace them if something awful happens, just so we can get the paperwork together in time.

The number one answer at the moment is David Mitchell.  I’m being controversial here, but I just do not agree with this. In fact I shudder to write it.  I can’t deny that Mitchell is clearly intelligent; he has had a similar education to Fry, has trodden the same boards, and is forging an almost identical career.  But I find him just such a pompous arse.  He doesn’t have the same approachableness, as Fry. He doesn’t have that genuine humble bafflement that Fry often displays when complimented too highly.  Mitchell’s face is too capable of smugness and he is too ready to put people down.

I believe the true holder of ‘Britain’s Next Top National Treasure’ is Victoria Coren.  I cannot think of anyone else whose voice, and the words it forms, sends me to sillying heights of pleasure. Her obvious intellect, like Fry’s, doesn’t detract from the fact she is probably good company down the pub.  And it profoundly please me that these qualities ooze from a woman.  I don’t want to bang on about the Sisterhood here, and make the mistake of celebrating her womanliness more than her talent, but in a world drowning in Fearnes, Hollys, and ANYONE OF THOSE BASTARDS ON T4, Coren is a blessing in female form. 

Coren isn’t just a presenter though and has been writing since her youth.  I judge writers on their ability to make me think differently about issues, she has passed my test with flying colours.  Her writing about the female form and its uses in the tremendous (and much under stocked) book ‘Once More with
 Feeling’ made me look at women in porn entirely differently (there are too many things to say about that last phrase). The book charts Coren and Charlie Skelton’s quest to produce the best pornographic film ever.  If the book hadn’t had her name attached I would have completely dismissed it.  The feminist in me would have scoffed and shuddered at the subject matter; I would have tutted and rolled my eyes.  Alot.  Now, I’m not saying that Coren has turned me into a hairy handed porn enthusiast, but her thoughtful, engaging and challenging descriptions of the scene and those who inhabit it made me reassess porn as just a seedy pit of abuse and infection.  Of course A LOT of it is, and if you engage in it in anyway I urge you to watch films that are fully decorated with all the right certificates. But some of it isn’t.  Some of it is fun, silly and at times (ahem) touching.   

To me, Coren is doing for words what Nigella did to food.  She is making them stupendously sexy.  I am dying for another series of Balderdash and Piffle.  This series sought the origins of everyday words and phrases and for anyone interested in language was a delight.   The way the words trickled out of Coren’s mouth, the way she flirted with the camera was tremendously girly and alluring.  The best porn Coren ever made was in this programme: word-porn.

Now, thanks to Only Connect (a hidden gem on BBC Four), she is bringing a weekly dose of clever-porn into my sitting room.  This show is brilliant. I rarely manage to get anything right, but that’s the point.  It’s a breath of fresh air to have a quiz on television that expects a certain level of knowledge that isnt based on soaps or X-Factor winners. If you haven’t seen it yet, try one of their “fiendishly diffcult” connecting walls here. Of course, Coren makes the show.  If it was fronted by anyone else it could possibly be the most pretentious show on TV but her personality gives it just the right amount of comedy to make it watchable without singling out the viewer as the stupid one - “[contestants are] SO clever they’ll make Stephen Fry look like Welsh Helen from Big Brother 2”.

And to top it all off, she is a professional poker player! This is as close to being James Bond that a girl can get.  And it is THE COOLEST things about her!   I swell with pride each time I watch her playing.  Her name above that St George flag makes me punch the air, and I almost have to stop myself exclaiming that wincing phrase “GO GIRLFRIEEEEND!”  She would make a brilliant comic book character: ‘Vicky C – Poker Girl!’

Victoria Coren | Best Online Casino Gambling

And now for another wincing phrase - “Girl Crush”. Coren is definitely at the top of this list for me.  Everytime she is on a panel show, whether it’s Have I Got News For You or Question Time she easily overshadows everyone else.  Most of the time she is surrounded by men. You can see it in their eyes as inch by inch they fall in love with her.  But there is one panel show that series on series seems to be lacking something.  The fact she hasn’t yet appeared on it seems completely ludicrous to me.  WHY IN THE NAME OF STEPHEN FRY HAS SHE NOT BEEN ON QI YET?!!!  Surely she is THE perfect person for that show.  Just imagine it for a moment.

Fry, Coren and Facts.

Drink it in….

Surely she is due an appearance!

For me, Coren is the best thing on TV right now and tightly gripping holder of "The Next Stephen Fry" title.  I hope the future holds a lot more commissions with her name on. If that name isn’t “household” this time next year I will burn my TV License (which will be annoying as I pay on-line).  In short, Victoria Coren is the only girl on television that I want to see turning over cards.

Visit Victoria's Website here

Picture credits: Zykesmith, Steve Edwards

Victoria on


  1. And I thought I was a fan ... Totally agree, and confirm her charm works on men too.

  2. ha! Thanks Brian! I have watched with awe as some of my male friends describe her affect on them!

  3. Watching Countdown....even the new girl on that looks like she should be on the cover of Nuts Magazine.

  4. Wow. Someone sent me the link to this on Twitter, I'm blown away! How incredibly kind, thanks so much. I have to say I disagree with you about David Mitchell, he's an incredibly nice guy and I think sort of 100% un-smug. But the stuff about me is awfully generous and lovely of you, thanks! And hurray for you reading the porn book (I love "under-stocked"; I think sadly we're over the border into "un-stocked" these days) - I've just written a particularly feminist rant for this Sunday's Observer and I'm feeling the sisterly love.
    Thanks again & best wishes,

  5. Good Grief!!

    Thank you for reading Victoria! You have absolutely made me nearly die!

    I shall endevour to have kinder thoughts towards Mitchell!

    As I work in a bookshop I am gradually allowing the Coren name to take over the shelves! I shall get that porn book into stockings this christmas if it kills me!

    Much Love!

  6. Well said! A presenter / personality to treasure.

  7. Wouldn't 'female superspy' be as close to being James Bond as a woman could get?

    (I think VC is great. I also like DM and don't find him smug.)

  8. I seriously didnt know who she was until David


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