WHENEVER Sir Trevor McDonald takes to the screen, for what are nowadays sadly less frequent appearances, you can hear the moans from current news readers everywhere.
He may have stopped being a regular visitor to our living rooms six-and-a-half long years ago but whenever he pops up for one of his well polished, hand picked documentaries it serves as a painful reminder that none of his successors can hold a candle to the Don of news anchormen.
It is highly appropriate then that his latest project is The Mafia With Trevor McDonald (ITV, Monday 9pm), a very slick, big budget production made over period of many months.
Like everything the world’s coolest 75-year-old gets involved with, the first of two programmes taking a guided tour of the American Mafia was a hit with the millions who tuned in. Technically speaking it was one of the best made documentaries to be broadcast on terrestrial television for quite some time.
To be fair though, it had absolutely everything going for it - a dream of a subject and access to some of the men who have risked their lives by betraying the Cosa Nostra’s much vaunted code of silence.
The main players in this production all played crucial roles in the world’s most feared organised crime network and have some fantastic stories to tell, so why was it that I felt ever so slightly short changed at the end of the hour long documentary?
There were interviews with dead eyed men with terrifying names such as Mikey Scars and John Alite but was there really any fresh insight? Had we not heard much of this detail before through court cases and endless books and newspapers articles on a criminal dynasty which has fascinated and terrified in equal measure for many years.
The most interesting aspect of this programme was that it gave context to just how much money the Mobs earn from its ill-deeds - one very well groomed ex-con, Michael Franseze claims he was earning as much as $10million a week in his heyday as the Mafia’s financial whizz kid.
Now he is a Christian preacher who charges thousands of dollars per public appearance while self confessed killer Alite is a motivational speaker, which slightly dented the illusion that this documentary brought something new to the table.
These guys have made themselves available to the media and no doubt they will do it again. Even the interview with Scars who says he spends his life looking over his shoulder after he gave evidence against his former employees was a bit too polished, including the scene when he drove Sir Trev though his former manor of Little Italy.
He seemed a bit too relaxed for a man back in the lion’s den who has a price on his head, even when he spotted an acquaintance from his life working on the streets.
Although not ground breaking this was an example of how to make a very good documentary, especially when you have a big budget and the talents of the First Knight of Newsreaders to call upon.