I BLAME Angela Rippon. If it wasn’t for the former BBC newsreader’s routine on the Morecambe and Wise show, life for today’s anchors would be a lot easier.
If you recall, Rippon appeared in the 1976 Christmas special in the usual fashion, sitting behind a desk and reading the news straight to camera. Then, with one bound, she was free, and proceeded to high-kick her way through Let’s Face the Music and Dance.
Gasp, went the nation. Newsreaders have legs! The cat was out the bag and it was never going back again.
Which brings us to The Nine, the 9pm news programme on the new BBC Scotland digital channel. In a bid to whip up excitement ahead of the channel’s launch next February, the corporation this week invited the press in for a sneak peek at the set. The fools.
With the programme’s style described as “informal and inclusive”, co-anchors Rebecca Curran and Martin Geissler look set to deliver a nightly dose of murder, mayhem and light diary items from a space which could have been designed by a colour blind sadist.
Built on the third floor of Beeb HQ at Pacific Quay, the studio looks out on floors filled with BBC worker bees. At one side of the open plan studio is a glass-topped standing desk where presenters will read the news and do interviews. Geissler described this as the “bar area”, which bodes well.
There is a giant screen for link-ups and graphics, and at the other end of the studio, given pride of place, is a purple sofa.
Like all such items in news sets, this sofa is unlike any sofa you have ever seen or would ever buy. Stiffly upholstered and designed not to be occupied for long, it is the kind of thing that would be more at home in an airport.
Newsreaders are not allowed slouchy sofas for the very good reason that they would fall asleep. Cutting from North America editor Jon Sopel in DC to a shot of Geissler in the studio, splayed out on the couch with a line of drool falling from his lips, would not endear the new team to London.
Not having a desk exposes the newsreaders to another danger area: the casual wardrobe. Geissler has the easier of the two hills to climb here. He need merely to go without a tie and he fits the bill. Curran will have to abide by a different definition of casual/smart. Not for women TV journos blue jeans and a Paul Smith shirt; they have to dress like wedding guests, every single day. 
Another drawback of having no desk to hide behind is that your whole body is on show. Say cheerio, folks, to bread, cakes and anything else that tastes good and puts on the pounds.
As they roam around the set like free range chickens, I dearly hope the duo do not succumb to a condition that has led many an anchor to come a cropper. At the moment, Geissler and Curran can stand, sit, and walk just like the rest of us. 
Put them in an open plan studio, however, and they run the risk of forgetting these basic skills and turning into drunk toddlers. In a live broadcast it is tough enough to take a few steps from sofa to desk. Try doing it while someone in the gallery is screaming into your earpiece: “YOUR FLIES ARE UNDONE!”
No one simply reads a bulletin like the old days. Editors think the short of attention span viewer must be entertained with bells and whistles.
From CNN to STV, set designers  are continually trying to reinvent the wheel. One year chairs are in, then sofas. Sitting is replaced by perching; pastels binned in favour of primary colours. Eventually we will come to a point where Fiona Bruce reads the news while juggling flaming torches.
My advice, because I know they are desperate for it, is for every news anchor, when faced with a new set, to ask themselves if this is the sort of crib a Dimbleby could feel at home in. Have you ever seen David or Jonathan within 50 feet of a purple sofa? Quite.
Goodnight for now, Martin and Rebecca, and good luck with the set. You’ll need it.


NO contest as to who came off worse in the war between Kevin Bridges and the hecklers.
The Glaswegian comedian was on stage in Brighton this week when a band of slightly too merry punters thought the audience would rather listen to them than Bridges. 
The din went on for so long the comic eventually walked off, 25 minutes early.
Apologising later on Twitter, Bridges said he had been ill for a few days but did not want to cancel. 
“People shouting nonsense throughout the gig is something I’m well used to, but tonight I hit a wall physically and maybe mentally, and I’m truly sorry to everyone I let down by finishing early.”
Fans will be given their money back if they wish, and the rest of the night’s takings are going to charity. We always thought Bridges was a class act; now it’s official.
My favourite riposte to a heckler remains Arthur Smith, who told one gob on a stick, “Sorry, I can't understand what you're saying ... I'm wearing a moron filter."


WE have all been there. Sitting on a plane before a long flight, the seat beside you empty.
Anxiously, you scan the queue of people boarding, hoping the heavyweight, the person with a filthy cold, or the soak clearly fresh from the airport bar, will walk on by. I’d like to be a better person, but long haul flights are not the place to start trying.
Stephen Prosser, an engineer from Tonypandy, Wales, had a 23-stone man sitting beside him for a flight from Bangkok to Heathrow. 
On arriving home, he sued British Airways for £10,000, alleging that he had been “pinned against the side of the cabin” and “forced [into an] unnatural posture”. As a result, he claimed, he was left in pain and could not work his normal hours.
The judge ruled against the Welshman, saying: “The likelihood is Mr Prosser simply did not wish to come into bodily contact with his neighbouring passenger.” 
Flights should be like team sports at school, with some lucky passengers given the chance to choose the stranger they will sit beside. Failing that, give me a screaming baby any day.


I HAD a glimpse of heaven the other night while buying a bookcase online from Ikea.
I had been swithering about it, fingers burned too many times by self-assembly furniture that was lovely and cheap but a nightmare to build. Oh, the nights spent weeping over instructions, the arguments about lost Allen keys.
But I reckoned a bookcase was do-able, so clicked to purchase. A message popped up on screen. Would I like to hire someone to build the furniture for me?
Would I like it? Did Meg Ryan like it in the diner scene from When Harry Met Sally? It was every cack-handed persons’ dream come true. 
TaskRabbit, which started in Boston a decade ago, matches jobs with tradespeople. In the case of the bookcase the fee was £20. Bargain. Alas, there had been a mistake. Next day, a nice chap left a message saying TaskRabbit would, in time, be coming to Scotland but for now it was London only. 
O tempora, o mores, oh where can I find a joiner before Tuesday?