On The Box
There's only been one story on television this week and it was such a bizarre set of circumstances no scriptwriter could have come up with it.
But life, as they say, can be stranger than fiction, and that was proved yet again this week. We're talking about the antics of those two young, fun-loving, crazy, zany pranksters from Sydney. The two DJs who unfortunately have given the nickname shock-jocks a whole new meanness.
Mel Greig and Michael Christian are the young Ockers in question, and the dynamic duo showed all the culture we've come to expect from that side of the Tasman when they came up with the madcap prank call to London's King Edward VII's Hospital where the pregnant Duchess of Cambridge, aka Kate Middleton, was being treated for extreme morning sickness.
The two wacky radio personalities, who are well-known for their screwball stunts, couldn't believe their luck. Despite imitating the Queen and Prince Charles with pathetic Pommie upper-class accents, the nurse who answered the call put them through to Nurse II, who was looking after the aforementioned duchess.
The recorded conversation was played repeatedly on their radio station as a hugely successful prank call.
Naturally the world of television took notice and footage of the two bright young things in their studio, laughing and boasting about how they'd duped everyone with their prank call, quickly achieved cult status. It was a bit of irreverent fun and Mrs Brown and I had a chuckle, along with many others all over the world.
Even granddad-to-be Prince Charles got in on the joke.
When asked by a British TV reporter how he felt about the prank call, his reply was deliciously eccentric, even by his own daffy standards.
"How do you know I'm not a radio station?"
He then grinned and proceeded to say how wonderful his daughter-in-law's pregnancy was and how much he was looking forward to the impending addition to the family.
Everyone was having a bit of a giggle at those larrikins from Down Under and their jolly jape.
A couple of days later, the joke was to become horribly unfunny.
The nurse who had put the call through to her colleague, was found dead, apparently by her own hand.
No-one was laughing any more and the world started to turn on Mel and Meeck (to put it into the West Island dialect).
The news was released to us all on television by no less a personage than the chairman of the King Edward VII's Hospital Board, Lord Glenarthur (that's just his last name).
He was every inch the aristocrat and would fit easily into Downton Abbey but he was clearly angry as he shocked the world with the news of nurse Jacintha Saldanha's suicide. In a huge serve to the Ocker radio management he said: "It was extremely foolish of your presenters even to consider trying to lie their way through to one of our patients, let alone making the call." Fair enough, and then he went on to describe their actions as "ill-considered" and resulting in "the humiliation of two dedicated and caring nurses who were simply doing their job tending to their patients".
"The longer term consequences have been reported around the world and is, frankly, tragic beyond words."
Strong stuff, but, under the conditions, totally warranted you'd have to say at this point.
Suddenly the world was outraged at the actions of the deadly duo of DJs and their bosses stood by them by suspending them. Never mind that the same bosses had approved the prank call, got a legal opinion, listened to the recording of said call and given the green light to broadcast it.
Mel and Meeck were holed up in a secret location in Sydney and even had their Twitter accounts cancelled, so vitriolic were the attacks of the anonymous assassins of the world of social media. If a poll had have been done for the most unpopular person in the world, they'd have been right up there with President Bashar al-Assad from Syria; disgraced drug cheat cyclist Lance Armstrong and anyone from the Board of New Zealand Cricket - all of whom have appeared on telly a fair bit lately.
Mel and Meeck then did what media personalities do at such times; they went on telly, said they were sorry, and bawled their eyes out.
Whether they will ever be forgiven is doubtful. Their careers are in ruins, their future looks bleak, but Mrs B reckons there could well be some salvation for them if they applied for some of the high-paying managerial jobs at New Zealand Cricket that must be coming vacant soon. A devout cricket follower, she reckons they might even improve things a bit.
- The Timaru Herald