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Peter Rhodes on a dame's frequent flights, the robotic face of news and some final words from a comedian who died too soon

By Peter Rhodes | Peter Rhodes | Published:

I HAVE no way of standing this up, so to speak, but a reader assures me a radio interviewee on the subject of online pornography, who admitted viewing erotic material, was called Drew Wyllie.

Edgy - Ian Cognito

IF I had to choose the profession which would be wiped out first by the arrival of AI, artificial intelligence, I'd opt not for lorry drivers or warehouse staff but TV news readers. Think of the advantages. A news-reading avatar would have all the best features of your favourite BBC and ITV presenter, but with none of those irritating raised eyebrows, and a voice perfectly modulated to be pleasing yet authoritative. The TV news avatar, having been programmed to perfection, would never fluff a line or show a hint of bias. And it would be a darned sight cheaper than the £400,000-a-year faces it replaced. Impossible? Think again. It is happening.

FROM Russia comes news of "Alex," a humanoid robot who popped up on the state TV service a few days ago to inform viewers, in what one report called "an unhurried monotone," that Moscow authorities were searching for a homeless cat that was supposedly kicked by a city-council candidate. Where Moscow leads, will Auntie Beeb follow?

GHOSTS (BBC1 ) looks promising. How can you not warm to a ghost in mammoth fur, in life a stone-age man, who cannot remember the word "car" but has no problem with "architrave"? Now, that's clever.

BY their jokes shall ye remember them. Ian Cognito, 60, the comedian who collapsed and died on stage at Bicester, was allegedly banned from TV and radio in his lifetime for being too edgy, unpredictable and offensive. But after he died, Radio 4 played a few moments from his routine including this reflection on paranoia: "When they say 'coming soon to a cinema near you,' how do they know where you are . . ?"

ON the subject of prescription medicines having curious side-effects, a reader tells me her eye drops, designed to control glaucoma, have made her eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker. I use eye drops after eye surgery but only in the right eye which now not only only has longer and luxuriant eyelashes but is slightly darker blue than the other.

IT is a golden rule of public life that when you get yourself into a hole, it's best to stop digging. Dame Emma Thompson flew 5,400 miles from Los Angeles to be seen at the Extinction Rebellion demo in London. She defended her gas-guzzling flight on the grounds that she flies less than she used to and always carries a little wooden knife and fork to avoid using plastic cutlery. She flew business class because, at 60, "I am far too old" to go economy. "If I could fly cleanly, I would," she explains. And she helps save the planet by planting lots of trees at her holiday home in Scotland. So that's regular flights, some token cutlery and a second home. Seriously, dame, just stop digging.

Peter Rhodes

By Peter Rhodes

Award-winning columnist and blogger. Keeping an eye on the tribulations and trivia of a fast-changing world

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