Today's loathsome creature was once ubiquitous on our TV screens, but seems to have vanished from sight recently. And for that, a good many of us are probably quite glad.
June Sarpong is a television presenter who started off doing the dance music chart on MTV before moving to Channel 4 to present their T4 youth strand. For Channel 4, Sarpong ticked a lot of boxes and they soon started sticking her in front of more and more shows. The highlight of her career was her interview with Tony Blair.
Quite apart from her horrendously grating voice and appalling laugh, she annoys me for a variety of reasons. Firstly, she's been awarded an MBE for ahem, "services to broadcasting and charity" which seems jolly odd. At the time it was awarded (2007), she'd been presenting T4 for several years but pretty much every other TV production she was involved with (Your Face Or Mine?, Dirty Laundry, Playing It Straight, etc) were all dismal pieces of populist shit that vanished without a trace after poor ratings. It certainly seemed like her award was more due to her soft interview of Blair than anything else.
And that's the second thing I loathe about her. After gaining a surprising level of access (she got to shadow Blair for two days), she completely failed to ask anything interesting or even slightly critical. But having described Blair as "a charismatic, rock star-type politician" it perhaps isn't so surprising. And just how did she land this interview? "It sounds so name-droppy and I hate all that sort of stuff. It’s so not that, but I did know them. I just thought it would be really good to do something, because in real life, he has a sense of humour that people never got to see. I thought it would be really good to do a programme where you got to see that side of him."
After leaving T4, Sarpong created a website called Politics & the City because "So many of my girlfriends, who are smart, successful women, don't have a clue about politics - and it's not because they don't want to." So cue a round of private investment followed by media hype and lots of launch parties. And then less than two years later no mention of it dying on its arse.
Although Sarpong had clearly nailed her colours to the Blair mast, she tried to switch horses, saying about David Cameron "I'd love to interview him. I've met him. I think he's got that Blair factor, in terms of making you feel very important. I like what he's doing on family and in making the Conservative Party more fashionable. But you have to wait and see. You don't know what people are really like until they're in power." Uh huh. It didn't work and the Tories haven't invited her to all those parties she loves so much.
And so Sarpong left for America to try her luck on US TV. Here's her bio from Tru TV, who broadcast under the tagline "Not reality. Actuality."
As the female face of Channel 4's successful Sunday morning strand T4 for the last eight years, Sarpong became part of TV history when she scored access to British Prime Minister Tony Blair for her Channel 4 special When Tony Met June. A popular personality within the world of TV, she was voted as the #1 panelist young people wanted to see on the British political discussion show Question Time. She has also interviewed and introduced some of the world's biggest newsmakers, including Nelson Mandela, Prince Charles, Bill Clinton and Al Gore, as well as such personalities as Bono, George Clooney and 50 Cent.But just what is she doing over there? Well, she's a minor presenter on a conspiracy theory show hosted by ex-wrestler, ex-governor Jesse Ventura. Nice.
Sarpong is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust and campaigns for the Make Poverty History movement. For services to broadcasting and charity, she was awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire) on Queen Elizabeth's 2007 New Years honors list, making her - along with Princess Anne's daughter, Zarah Phillips - one of the youngest people to receive an MBE that year.
Skip on to the six minute mark to see Sarpong happily go along with the idea that the US government are using an ionosphere research project for mind control and weather alteration whilst Ventura suggests that it caused the Indonesian tsunami. Oh dear. This from a woman who claims "When I was at college I did government politics and I was always interested in the issues." The issues these days being the kind of conspiracy theory crap that appeals to the tinfoil hat brigade.
Her show hit trouble when it alleged that the US government was implementing a police state. They claimed that various planned encampments were to be used for interning people deemed a threat to national security when martial law was declared. Unfortunately they turned out to be for housing people displaced by hurricanes or other natural disasters. The US Representative who signed the legislation covering these sites complained about this misrepresentation. The show also alleged that a site in Georgia was being used to stockpile plastic bins to be used for mass burials when martial law was declared. It turned out to be the storage facility of a company that makes grave liners. When questioned on this, the Tru TV network disclaimed responsibility saying the show was "an entertainment program that appears on an entertainment network." Yeah, that's "not reality" all right. Lest one think that Sarpong's responsibility is limited to that of a presenter, she's actually one of the producers too.
Another project in the States was "The Alpha Woman" - apparently a range of clothing. A quick look through the US trademark website shows the mark being abandoned a couple of years ago. Oh dear.
Various online sources mention "In March 2011 Lipgloss Productions [Sarpong's production company] registered huffingtonpost.co.uk, sparking speculation that she will helm the UK arm of the popular website." But that sounds like bullshit to me. That domain has been registered by the Huffington Post itself since 2008.
The Huffingtonpost.com, Inc.
Registered on: 06-Apr-2008
Renewal date: 06-Apr-2012
Last updated: 27-May-2011
Sarpong keeps on with the political angle, her teenage-level understanding of issues notwithstanding. She recently launched another website: Row6 "a new kind of social networking which resonates with the humanitarian ideals of the UN and seeks to literally join the hands of all people regardless of color or creed- just as Dr King dreamed of doing half a century ago." Blimey. So that'll vanish without a trace in short order too.
Still suckling at the Blair teat she seems to desperately want the respectability of a political statesman with the unreproachability of a charity campaigner, but y'know without actually having to put the work in.
So farewell then, June Sarpong. May our TV screens never again be troubled by your screechy voice and inane politics.