Frontline fits for the professor

The full package: Professor Brian Cox.The presenter is one of the most ubiquitous and crucial roles in the world of TV, yet it seems that snobbery, perceptions of highbrow versus lowbrow and sexism are a big part of how we view and judge them.

As we saw in the mirthful satire Frontline, newsreaders are frequently viewed as well-groomed dummies who do little more than crib from an autocue written by someone far smarter. If they’re male, that is. If they’re female, it’s usually all about their hair, make-up and wardrobe. And let’s not even mention that recent article about ”newsroom babes”.

In one corner are Bert Newton (is there a show he hasn’t presented?), Sonia Kruger, Larry Emdur and Johanna Griggs, the consummate pros of the presenter gig who even manage to bring a modicum of respect and polish to shows that don’t necessarily deserve them.

In another corner stand the ”greats” of the role, an elite group of TV identities whose work is usually discussed in hushed tones of respect and admiration. In that camp goes just about anything presented by David Attenborough, SBS’s Jenny Brockie, the ubiquitous Kevin McCloud or Kerry O’Brien.

Anyone who has any doubts about what it takes to stand in front of a TV camera, recite a script written by someone else or ad lib some meaningful words while the technicians fix a broken link ought to try it. And then pray that the world doesn’t get to see it.

The presenter who will be front and centre for Australian TV viewers this coming week is Britain’s Professor Brian Cox, whose latest show, Wonders of Life, debuts on ABC1.

A one-time rock star and distinguished particle physicist (words rarely heard in the same sentence), Cox is knowledgable, dashingly handsome and articulate, with a passion for science that is truly infectious. He is the full package, and anyone considering putting their hand up for a presenting gig could take a few tips from him.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.