You turn your back for a moment….you take your eye of the ball for the merest blink of an eye….you allow yourself to be distracted by trivia like family weddings and births...and all hell breaks loose.  The world you knew and loved and cherished is turned upside down and nothing - like, absolutely nothing - will ever be the same again.

I’m distraught to have to tell you (as if you didn’t know already) that tragedy has struck my beloved France.  One of those steadfast everyday certainties which framed the lives of my French friends - like bad driving, almond croissants and reflexive verbs - has disappeared forever.

Yes (sob) - TF1 has sacked Claire Chazal.
TF1 is the French equivalent of BBC1 and ITV1 combined, only omitting the best of both.  It is the moving wallpaper which passes for French television and which has ‘adorned’ Gallic living rooms - unchanged and unchanging - since the 1950s.

It’s only redeeming feature was the wonderful Claire Chazal.  She of the come-hither eyes and the come-hitherer smile.  She who, just by breathing the word ‘Bonsoir’, gave purpose and meaning to the otherwise humdrum lives of countless Frenchmen and - in roughly equal amounts - disgruntled the supposed objects of their domestic affections.

For almost 25 years, a gentle mist of dreamy longing has descended every Sunday evening at eight o’clock sharp on innumerable French households as the silken-voiced Mme Chazal told the nation what had been going in the world since the last time they saw here a week ago.

She was la reine de l’info - the ‘queen of news’.  To be honest, she was its impératrice - its empress.  It would never have occurred to anyone to question anything she said, for either its veracity or its impartiality.  She was an oracle of instantly believable reportage and, if she’d told her viewers and admirers that it was Monday and not Sunday, they would have believed her at once.

She did not do this by being pompous, smug or self-important.  To be unfashionably sexist for a moment, I think she rather embodied the stereotypical view the world seems to have - in her case, rightly - about the status and style of older French women.  She was a broadcasting icon of the highest water not because she felt the need to be coquettish or maternal or schoolmistressy or over-coiffured or self-consciously fashionable.

She embodied the perfect combination of relaxed authority and drop-dead seductiveness to draw you in and keep you hooked until her final bonne soirée.  She left you longing for next Sunday.

She was so much more than a mere newsreader.

She was...she is….Claire Chazal.

TF1 have left a trail of unmendable (mostly male) broken hearts from Carcassone to Calais, from Nantes to Nancy.  They must be out of their managerial minds.  I have half a mind to go over to France and picket their studios…

O la vache!
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Sid said...

I await the next blog Ian, complete with a picture of you with banner in hand, outside the studios.
On a more annoying note Gillian's adapted wheelchair vehicle was targeted by persons unknown very recently, and they stole part of the exhaust system. Needless to say my blood is boiling.

Sid said...

Those that know better than I tell me that the exhaust is complete....but the villains were after the Catalytic Converter.