SEAN BLACKMAN: The paradox of Piers
Rev Sean Blackman, from Brockhurst Baptist Church, Gosport, takes a look at one of the most divisive personalities in showbusiness
Paradox. Definition: A person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.
Piers Morgan is not a movie star, neither is he a pop artist nor sport personality, but he is rarely out of the news and has more than six million Twitter followers.
His daily tussles with fellow presenter Susanna Reid has won ITV’s Good Morning Britain millions of viewers and become an unmissable part of morning TV.
Yet, when the Private Eye editor Ian Hislop once suggested he should be confined to Room 101 Morgan was considered too toxic.
He is a modern phenomenon, television’s equivalent of Marmite – people either love him or loathe him.
Nevertheless, I believe our fascination with him says more about us and our world than we might be willing to accept.
After initial stints at LLoyds of London and Southern News, he was recruited by then-editor Kelvin Mackenzie to join The Sun newspaper.
His high-profile role as editor of the Bizarre showbusiness column brought him to the attention of Rupert Murdoch and at 29 became the youngest
national newspaper editor in more than 50 years when he took over the News of the World.
He went on to edit the Daily Mirror but his career really took off when he took on TV presenting roles. Firstly, with the Pride of Britain Awards, then to American Idol and Britain’s Got Talent, through his friendship with Simon Cowell.
He even replaced the iconic Larry King on CNN and now presents Good Morning Britain.
Nevertheless, there have been episodes in Morgan’s life which would sink most careers.
As editor of the Daily Mirror, he was sacked when photographs purporting to show British Army soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners were proved to be fake.
Furthermore, there is Morgan’s willingness to be associated with Donald Trump; his feuds with Ian Hislop, Jeremy Clarkson, Madonna and Hugh
Grant and his controversial statements.
So, what makes Piers Morgan such compelling viewing?
Firstly, he recognises that people’s life stories matter and is able to draw his famous interviewees to share deeply personal issues.
For example, in Life Stories, he was able to get an interview with then-prime minister, and usually taciturn, Gordon Brown who was moved to tears when talking about his late baby daughter, Jennifer Jane.
Secondly, he is not afraid of asking the questions viewers would like to ask.
So, while a remainer voter himself, Morgan pulled no punches when interviewing fellow reaminer MP Chuka Umunna over his second Brexit referendum hopes.
Thirdly, he is able to show tremendous humanity at times.
When Susan Boyle went from frumpy spinster to international fame after her success on Britain’s Got Talent he was one of the first to realise Boyle was not coping and was beginning to behave quite erratically behind the scenes.
Morgan emerged as her protector.
Piers Morgan is a modern paradox.