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Thursday, June 13, 2024
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HomeNewsColin Brazier – farming’s gain is the listeners’ loss

Colin Brazier – farming’s gain is the listeners’ loss

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COLIN Brazier recently called time on his work as a journalist and broadcaster. In an unexpected and unusual career change, he has quit the left-leaning radio station LBC to study agriculture, swapping wallies for wellies.

The trainee farmer has himself been an endangered species: a social conservative operating in the mainstream media. He certainly was a rare breed within LBC, from which he signed off following a short stint in the coveted slot of, er, 10pm-1am. 

Being a platform for James O’Brien and numerous other bien pensant lefties, where even the few so-called conservatives such as Iain Dale are impeccably liberal, LBC had seemed an unnatural home for Colin Brazier. Working that graveyard shift did at least distance him from odious O’Brien and his mid-morning malevolence towards everyone and everything remotely right-wing.

Brazier had previously been a welcome presence on GB News. Latterly broadcasting Monday to Thursday at 4pm, he trailed his show as ‘two hours of fast-paced news’; he generally made good on his promise by delivering an informative and entertaining programme. It was a shock when at the end of August 2022 the channel’s most accomplished news anchor, whom viewers had come to regard as a keystone, was abruptly removed from the schedule and left the station.

The reason has never been explained. At the time, Brazier’s only response was to tweet the following cryptic message.

Colin was a great loss. He had been with GB News from day one in June 2021, having previously endured 25 years at Sky News, which he likened to ‘wearing a straitjacket’. He has since described being alienated by mandatory training in diversity and equality and how he regrets not speaking out sooner against Sky’s pernicious, politically-correct doctrines.

The man who previously reported from war zones suffered professional flak and personal ridicule from the left when he swapped supposedly respectable Sky News for the upstart station which Brazier defended as ‘a channel dedicated to diverse opinion’.

In September 2021 he admitted on air that as a widower with a large family to support it had taken ‘a bit of courage to leave a steady job’; making the leap to GB News had been ‘probably the bravest considered decision of my life’. He also used that on-screen oration to reaffirm his belief that GB News is ‘enlarging public debate’ and eruditely explained why ‘our cause is just’. 

That belief in the channel’s objectives, allied to his sure-footedness on screen, meant Colin Brazier was a mainstay during what at times was a difficult first year for GB News, particularly at the outset. It also made his subsequent, sudden departure all the more surprising and disappointing.

When Andrew Neil flounced off to France after less than two weeks on air at GB News, throwing a hissy-fit from which his reputation will never recover,  he left in the lurch many younger and more inexperienced colleagues. It was unflappable Colin Brazier who adroitly stepped into the prime 8pm slot and was instrumental in steadying the ship.

Incidentally, it was during his mid-evening stint that Brazier introduced viewers to Mark Steyn. Hitherto persona non grata on UK television and radio, Mark had taken to joking that he was last on British TV around the time of Muffin the Mule (a post-war puppet show, not a sordid career-ending scandal). Credit to Colin for courageously being the first for decades in this country to platform Mark Steyn, introducing him thus: ‘His views, especially on radical Islam and demographics, made him a panto villain for some on the left; but his prose, his polemical gifts and in particular his sense of the ridiculous made him essential reading on the right.’

Steyn himself subsequently took over the 8pm, with great success. Until, that is, he fell foul of management of GB News, whom our editor Kathy Gyngell later branded ‘unprincipled appeasers . . . [for] giving into Ofcom’s selective censorship’. 

Colin Brazier subsequently proved ideally suited to the 4pm round-up of news and opinion, a show on which Kathy was a regular ‘studio friend’. During what turned out to be the show’s final few weeks, the host allowed his guests to deliver their own monologues, which enabled Kathy expertly to explain why marriage matters.

Thanking Kathy for that contribution, Colin commented that her speech was ‘very moving, and of course I agree with every word . . . If people want to dwell on an important topic, I strongly recommend they take a look at your wonderful monologue on the merits of marriage today’.

From which you will correctly deduce that Brazier, a practising Roman Catholic and father of six, holds unfashionably traditional views and, as a presenter, was unafraid to express them. At 55, Colin Brazier the farmer-to-be deserves a happy and successful next act. The downside is that British TV and radio has lost not only a consummate broadcaster but a rare advocate for social conservatism.

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Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver
Gary Oliver is an accountant who lives in East Lothian.

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