Arnell’s 2022 TV ‘Naughty or Nice’ List

Arnell’s 2022 TV ‘Naughty or Nice’ List

Arnell’s been making a list…


Oh yes — and I’ve made a point of checking it twice, just to make sure all the boys and girls of Telly World (TM) are punished or rewarded appropriately.

Sometimes with the traditional methods, coal (Naughty) or a wished-for present (Nice) are bestowed, but I’ll also add some bespoke choices… Commençons! 


Channel 4’s Ian Katz has without doubt been a very naughty boy. Despite his age (54), the broadcaster’s chief content officer appears to delight in juvenile stunts and contrived controversies. But with October’s ‘educational documentary’ My Massive Cock (aka Too Large for Love) Katz pushed his Viz dial up to 11. Some would say he most assuredly deserved a smacked botty, but as he would probably enjoy it, a lump of coal (fresh from a newly re-opened pit) it is.

BBC’s Chair (and Roy Cohn lookalike) Richard ‘Dickie’ Sharp for saying the quiet bit out loud about his prejudices regarding supposed ‘liberal bias’ at the Corporation.

Laura Kuenssberg gets the standard lump of coal for inflicting her mediocre Sunday show on everyone and continuing to let Government ministers yammer on for hours whilst talking over opposition voices in their far shorter allotted segments. See also Fiona Bruce and Jo Coburn.

For the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a copy of the new Harry Cole/James Heale Liz Truss biography Out of the Blue for the opaquely funded pressure group who turn up on the BBC with “the tedious inevitability of an unloved season” (H. Drax).

Elon Musk, for being Elon Musk and all his associated shit at Twitter. A one-way SpaceX trip to Uranus..

Sky, for Michael Winterbottom’s Boris Johnson Covid whitewash/misfire This England. A misconceived idea further mauled by lousy execution. Presented with a copy of the disgraced former PM’s ghastly 2004 ‘novel’ Seventy-Two Virgins. Just as well drama commissioner Cameron Roach is no longer at Sky, otherwise he would likely have green-lit an adaptation.

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav for his brutal tactics at HBO. Ditto Mark Zuckerberg at Meta. The pair are scheduled to receive visits from the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present & Future for a Scrooged-style lesson in empathy.

GB News and TalkTV, for their monomaniacal obsession with channel migrants, Meghan & Harry, Covid lockdowns/masks, ‘Brexit betrayals’ and, more recently, ‘greedy’ nurses and ‘union barons’.

Robbie Williams and David Beckham for their loathsome Qatar money-grabs — and weaselly justifications.

David Walliams for his nasty Britain’s Got Talent comments, godawful kids’ books (and related TV cash-ins). Hopefully, his gift to viewers will be a long break from our TV screens.

The odious 38-day Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng for his on-camera unhinged giggling at the Queen’s funeral. His present – a dinner date with former boss Liz Truss. On the menu: independent coffee, meatball subs and chilled sauvignon blanc, in line with the frankly bonkers ex-PM’s ‘rock-star’ rider.

King Charles III for his total lack of media savvy (despite decades of training) with his childish on-camera pen/table-related grimacing and associated tiresome antics. Present: a boxed set of The Crown season 5.


The BBC’s The English, proving that some flickering flame of originality/quality exist at ‘Auntie’. Present: my grudging continuing payment of the licence fee.

Season 2 of The White Lotus: not really anything to do with Sky (who continue to commission crud such as COBRA, Code 44, and I Hate Suzie), so my grudging continuing payment of their increasingly exorbitant monthly subscription.

Emily Maitlis for calling out the Conservative infiltration of the BBC, especially the brazen appointment of ‘active Tory Party agent’ Sir Robbie Gibb as the Corporation’s ‘arbiter of impartiality’. Her present? A career unfettered by the likes of Sharp and backbiting fellow BBC colleagues, naming no names (Laura Kuenssberg).

Dominion‘s ongoing lawsuit against Fox News in the US. More power to them; could it truly spell the end of Fox?

General secretary of the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Mick Lynch for taking down the kneejerk anti-unionism of TV interviewers Kay Burley, Justin Webb, Piers Morgan and co. Well played sir; we can’t offer you a socialist paradise, but hearty thanks for your ability to stick it to some of the UK’s more blinkered political inquisitors.


LBC’s James O’Brien and others for continuing to call out the aforementioned IEA. You have the satisfaction of a job well done.

Martine Croxall‘s purely spontaneous mirthful reaction to Boris Johnson’s cowardly bottling of the October 2022 Tory leadership contest; a response many agreed with. Except the usual crew from the right-wing press, who called for Croxall to be dismissed. After an unwarranted suspension and ticking off by Auntie’s Impartiality Commissars, she returned to BBC News presentation team. With the economic situation as it is, a Christmas present — of sorts.


And lastly, King Charles III for his on-camera reaction to the useless Liz Truss — and the media that reported it, tempting as it may have been to do a Johnson at St Paul’s Cathedral and edit out his disparaging remarks about the clueless PM. Even the BBC covered ‘Dear-oh-dear-gate,’ but of course, excusing it in the words of the deeply unimpressive Chris Mason as ‘something of a verbal tick of his.’

Charles’ Christmas gift — being played by Dominic West in season 5 of The Crown. Could have been a helluva lot worse.

Of course, the perfect gift to anyone (barring the very young and the illiterate) is a copy of my debut novel, the ribald historical epic The Great One, a real (virtual) page-turner, even if I say so myself.

Happy Holidays One & All!

Stephen Arnell began his career at the BBC, moving to ITV where he launched and managed digital channels. He continues to consult for streamers and broadcasters on editorial strategy. He currently writes for The Spectator, The Independent, and The Guardian on film, TV and cultural issues. He is also a writer/producer (including Bob Fosse: It’s Showtime for Sky Arts) and novelist.

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