One Rogue Reporter describes its presenter Rich Peppiatt’s progression from Daily Star lackey to vehement tabloid terror. The sardonic nod in the title to the ludicrous defence given by numerous hacks squirming in the stand at the Leveson Inquiry is a sign that they will not be given an easy ride. Indeed, the show opens with numerous clips from Leveson, expertly and cheekily snipped together to show Rebekah Brooks and company disgracing themselves and continues in the same caustic but ultimately comical vein throughout.
Peppiatt resigned from the Daily Star and made his resignation letter public to the Guardian prior to embarking on this campaign, so clearly he has both a point to prove and a fair degree of insider knowledge on the shady dealings of tabloid reporting. Despite his strong feelings on the subject, he commendably evades just spitting rage and potentially losing his audience or the legitimacy of his complaints. Instead he is an easy going and affable host of the show which resembles a conference, clicking from slide to slide of his presentation.
His slides included pictures of articles, editors and atrocities committed to be jibed at, as well as numerous videos. An extensive analysis of the wording of an inane celebrity article was a real highlight: Peppiatt’s scientific and infinitesimal investigation made each hysterically selected word all the more hysterically funny. There were also several serious discussions of the actions of numerous editors and their sensationalist methods of reporting. Interspersed at apposite moments throughout are his attempts to ‘turn the tables’ and exact retribution on the editors being discussed. Paul Dacre, Richard Desmond and Kelvin Mackenzie are some of those featured in hidden camera sequences that humorously albeit rather juvenilely embarrass them and their companies as well as branding them hypocrites.
However, while these ersatz interviews were lightly amusing, they did not quite ring totally true. The main reason this show was so impressive was because in an era saturated cosy and soft political satire, it was so far from tame. One gag regarding the Leveson evidence of recently indicted News of the World ‘journalist Neville Thurlbeck was so risky Peppiatt was contractually obliged to read it from a piece of paper in statement format, after which he quipped that lawyers had told him to ‘treat every show as if it is your last’.
He closes on a fierce monologue on press morality that turned into a picture-supported poem before storming off stage. Judging on this performance, he needn’t worry about his newfound unemployment for long.