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Tweet to Eat: Doing that Walkers crisps ad with Gary Lineker

As I mentioned in a previous post, a while back I came across a fascinating website called PPRuNe where airline staff rated all the celebrities they had ever dealt with on their flights.

It really is a goldmine of delicious gossip, if you like that sort of thing.

Apparently, Sinéad O’Connor was “barking mad”.

Michael Jackson “completely insane”.

Mariah Carey sleeps “dribbling with her mouth open”.

Princess Diana was “always utterly charming” while her mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II had “a very warm bottom, if her seat was anything to go by”.

Alan Rickman was “very camp”, Elton John “temperamental”, Jon Bon Jovi “ignorant”, and Stephen Fry “hilarious”.

Happily, David Bowie, Kate Bush, George Michael, Neil Tennant and Joanna Lumley all scored very highly.

Amazingly, Margaret Thatcher, the contentious empress, was a model passenger, too: “Even though she would do an 18-hour day of diplomatic rounds, she would appear on the flight deck at midnight in her dressing gown with a tray of hot chocolate she had just made everyone! No Iron Lady there.”

While it won’t be a surprise to many that Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, Joan Collins, Naomi Campbell, Madonna and Mick Hucknall were all rated VERY badly.

As for the man of the moment Gary Lineker: “He actually came on board with his wife and the first thing he said was ‘No autographs please.’ None of us had asked… or wanted one.”

In 2013, not long before I emigrated from Britain to start a new life in my third country, Australia, I filmed a Walkers crisps advert in the Bishopsgate area of London with the former England footballer turned presenter and assorted savoury oddities; a pretty surreal shoot which announced their 2014 campaign called Do Us A Flavour. We were basically the assembled masses advocating a variety of bizarre savoury combinations, and where the Leicester lad is even handed two pigs in blankets as policemen turn up to stop us stalking him.

Of course, Lineker was the face of Walkers – their cheesy star muncher who featured in over 150 telly ads for the crisps company, including the infamous ‘Salt and Lineker’ skit with his teary-eyed chum from Italia 90, Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne.

Some found the bloke more vinegar than Lineker, and I’m not going to go all cheese and onion and say I particularly warmed to him (it was the not so great outdoors in winter, after all, ho ho) but, sweet or sour, if I can put my two penn’orth in, he was absolutely right to say what he did on Twitter the other day. Tweet to eat? Stranger things have happened.

In a 2022 podcast, Lineker revealed he was bullied for having “darkish” skin in the 1980s. His comments were important and insightful – giving us a glimpse of how race and racism can work.

With his Mediterranean-looking dark hair, olive skin, and wide nose it sounds almost identical to the sort of racist abuse I used to endure as a half-Greek back in Blighty. I used to get comments like “Gandhi”, “Paki-looking c*nt” and “there’s something of the tar brush about him.”

That casual xenophobia informs someone’s outlook on life, one that results in a suspicion of majority view groupthink, and a vociferous and defiant support for minorities, immigrants, refugees, AND, ironically, freedom of speech. 

That’s why he said what he did, with an obvious deeply-held emotional resonance.

This man is a freelance *sports* presenter, for chrissakes. How is it he can‘t have an opinion but actors who also work for the Beeb can? He didn’t insult or troll anybody, he just demonstrated a little thing called empathy. Remember that?

A bit like when Beeb bosses instructed him to mention Qatar‘s appalling human rights record during the recent World Cup in Doha.

It’s a deeply concerning decision by the BBC to relieve him of his Match Of The Day gig tonight — the same corporation who refused to apologise a while back when the ’N’ word was used (clue: it wasn’t “Nazi”), lest we forget.

I fear the way certain countries like the UK are going we are undermining the right to free speech in the face of petty political pressure and right-wing Brexit gammon dictatorial demagoguery. 

He has nothing to apologise for. And gosh, what a surprise that Boris bent-as-a-nine-bob-note Johnson trying to steal through a knighthood for his own father has been pushed off the front pages. Miraculous even.

Steve Pafford, France (my fourth residential country, zut alors)

In the closet: covert racism is everywhere is here

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