A fishy tale…

BLUE Peter presenter Zoe Salmon was savaged by Kate Figes in the Guardian recently in the latest controversy to surround the Bangor beauty. And once again, the criticism has provoked considerable reaction.

  • whitewash

    “I may be 48” says Kate, I say surprise surprise.

  • Rebecca Black

    Barbie indeed, she has a first class degree in law from QUB, this is really nasty, bitter stuff.

    Must a high acheiving women be ugly and dressed in a binbag to get respect?

  • missfitz

    Worth reading the link to the Telly in the leader above, it makes some interesting points about English attitudes toward Irish people in general, and considers this a case of racism

  • She’s just a Bangor Maid.

  • slug

    The only person who was upset by the Red Hand of Ulster was a Prof of Sociology (who was perhaps watching as part of his work). The people of Ulster, nationalist and unionsit, agreed that this symbol was a shared one.

  • slug

    I like the sound of Zoe Salmon.

    Perhaps I will have to buy a TV after all.

  • Nicholas Pugachev

    I seem to remember, that when BBC R4 gave Gerry Anderson his own show, back in the 1990s, Middle England didn’t much like his “tone” either.

  • smcgiff

    ‘I like the sound of Zoe Salmon.’

    The picture’s not bad either!

  • “Blue Peter have kept Zoe at her word after she vowed in her first Blue Peter programme that she was game to try anything, creating a regular item on the programme, ‘I’ll Try Anything Once’, in which so far she has taken a trip down beneath the ground to the London sewers, tried her hand at Formula One racing, worked ‘on the bins’, training with the RNLI and jumping off a pier in a man-made flight competition. ”

    If she ever wants to try a kildare man I’d like to volunteer, just to help out like…

  • I agree with Kate Figis. Zoe is dangerous to the children of tomorrow, she is too much of a ‘girly girl’. And this is not a positive attribute.

    Zoe Salmon just annoys me, like that other northern ireland woman orlaith mccallister. I cant decide who i would like to hit with a shovel first.

  • Concerned Loyalist

    Describing Ms Salmon you say:
    “She is too much of a girly girl”

    How do you equate that “this is not a positive attribute”? Would you instead rather she looked like Ann Widdecombe or even one of the other BBC presenters like Sue Barker and had the attitude and outlook on life of, for example, the, lets face it, “butch” Jo Brand?

    I think she’s brilliant and it’s great that Ulster has created another nationwide star…

  • Animus

    When people say “girly girl”, I think it’s a nice way of saying she’s an idiot with the intellect of a bag of sand. Not exactly a role model.

    The Red Hand thing and the flag incident made me cringe. That giggly, faux-naif thing is so 90s. She may have a law degree and may be bright, but she seems to be concealing her intelligence quite well.

  • wild turkey


    ‘The people of Ulster, nationalist and unionsit, agreed that this symbol was a shared one.’

    Just curious. What is the evidence base for the above statement?

    opinion poll?
    other research?
    if yes to any of the above
    who undertook?
    who sponsored?
    sample frame and methodology?
    can u enlighten us?

    ‘Must a high acheiving women be ugly and dressed in a binbag to get respect? ‘
    Rebecca, i don’t think that is the point of the figes article. one of the objections in the article seems to be that a high achieving woman seemingly mimics, out of choice or necessity, behaviours usually associated with a cabbage doll. and it is this behaviour that does not, in figes view, merit respect. bitter and twisted? don’t think so unless of course stereotypes of women that were past their sell by date when the dukes of hazard bit the dust are still operative in some quarters.
    then again, one can always switch the channel …and wait for the viewing figures to plummet.


  • The fact that the wee girl is from Bangor, and last time I was in Bangor I saw Red Hand Commando murals (or murials) and spray paint on the walls saying red hand commando area. Could she not have made a link? Duh, I’m zoe i am.

    Are Queen’s churning out politically ignorant law graduates now days? Could she not have realised that the Red Hand could have caused offence? I personally don’t find the red hand offensive and it is a cross community symbol hi-jacked by a bunch of yahoos.

    But I did find it offensive that she drapped the union jack over the whole isles. Queen’s would be proud.

    She has realised she can progress further in life fluttering her eyelashes and pouting her lips than actually doing something useful like giving criminals a fair trial.

  • Red Hand

    Does the Tyrone GAA team not use the red hand as their emblem? Do the Provos not march with a red hand flag? Everyone in Ulster uses it – it should not be associated with only one side. Zoe is somebody we should be proud of – brains and beauty!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    An extremely poor and above all sad article.
    It’s uncertain whether the author is feeling insecure in her middle age or has simply failed to notice that skimpily-clad, attractive girls are all over kids TV and music videos these days.
    As to her ‘political gaffes’, acknowledging that Northern Ireland is part of the UK and is entitled to display the Ulster flag is hardly controversial (there was actually ONE complaint concerning the red hand of Ulster comment — even Paul Maskey was unable to be offended).
    They’ll be picking on Jimmy Nesbitt next for appearing naked on ‘Cold Feet’ with a rose in his bum and refusing to vote Sinn Fein.

  • slug

    wild turkey

    There was lots of discussion after the incident, here in Slugger and across Ulster, in which unionists and nationalists agreed that the Red Hand was a symbol of Ulster that they shared.

    The Slugger thread on that instance was one of unusual consensus! You might try searching for it if you want to verify this.

  • Guest2

    Someone in her position should be more tactful and less policitally bias.

    She was “announcing a competition to design livery for an aeroplane representing the best of British” – The red hand isn’t a British symbol it’s am Irish symbol. The Ulster Rubgy team represents nine counties, Tyrone play in the Ulster championship i.e. nine counties. 2/3 of these counties are only under British rule. It’s the loyalists who have hijacked this to represent N. Ireland and she knows this.

    She could maybe get away with this, but then selecting a picture showing the Republic in the Union Jack shows that she’s either stupid or too politically influenced for her role as kids TV presenter.

  • wild turkey


    re the red hand. i take your word for it. i’m kinda new slugger.

    off on a tangent, if there was an unuusal consensus on the red hand, is this a way forward on a shared & accepted flag here?

    just a thought

  • slug

    Wild Turkey

    I’ve just notived the Slugger thread I mentioned is linked at the top of this blog item. (Click on the word “controversy”.

    I like your idea of a shared and accepted flag. I am not entirely sure whether the nationalists would like the Red Hand on the flag – they may make the argument that the Red Hand is an Ulster rather than an NI symbol.

    It should be possible to come up with an NI flag though. We have two precedents of NI symbols being agreed by nationalists and unionists: the PSNI badge cap and the NI Assembly symbol.

  • Reader

    Guest2: Tyrone play in the Ulster championship i.e. nine counties.
    But Tyrone is only one of the 9 counties – and Northern Ireland contains six of them (including Tyrone). And Loyalists can only hijack the symbol if you let them – and I haven’t seen you suggest that Tyrone GAA shouldn’t use it on that account – only that Zoe shouldn’t.
    So – Guest2 – who here is really trying to hijack the symbol for a single tradition?

  • slug

    The wod “hijack” seems a big negative – as though it wouldn’t belong to the group. Couldn’t we say “share”? The loyalists and nationalists both share the Red Hand – each for their own specialised purpose. That is a more positive term!

  • Guest2 hit on the problem for me, she was referring to the red hand as a “British” symbol, when it is clearly not, had she been asked what a good NI aeroplane might look like then I don’t see a problem with the red hand.

    Selecting the old “butchers apron” as a favourite sprawled across the 26 counties was just stupid…

    But then again, perhaps she was raised to believe that the Red Hand is indeed a “British” symbol and that all of Ireland should indeed be coloured by the Union Flag (hey at least she’s not partitionist!), in which case it’s just a lack of education, and we should really blame her parents and the society she was brought up in…

  • Guest2

    Any tradition should of course use it, but use it correctly. It represents the nine county province of Ulster, which 2/3 is under British rule and 1/3 under Irish rule.

    It does not solely represent N.Ireland or is it a symbol for British.

    Maybe someone should come up with a symbol for N Ireland (and a national athemn) instead of borrowing others.

  • harpo

    ‘bitter and twisted? don’t think so unless of course stereotypes of women that were past their sell by date when the dukes of hazard bit the dust are still operative in some quarters.’

    But it is bitter and twisted. It is a sign of intolerance on the part of Figes that she can’t accept someone who doesn’t fit with what she deems acceptable being seen out in public. She shows all the tolerance of a fundamentalist muslim cleric with her horified descriptions of bare female flesh. What does she want in TV presenters? No flesh showing, short haircuts and no makeup?

    Far from trying to stop a supposed stereotype of women, she is trying to impose a different stereotype on women against their free choice to be whatever they want to be.

    Figes strikes me as one of those radical feminists whose idea of feminism is to remove any freedom of choice from women and make them adhere to what the feminists dictate to be the acceptable stereotype. If stereotyping is an evil as you claim it to be, why is the feminist imposed stereotype any better than the one that you see as being unacceptable?

    As for stereotyping, are you stereotyping Zoe S as something simply based on the way that she looks? Are you doing exactly what you are arguing against. Saying that Zoe S is some stereotype simply because she is young and pretty?

    It’s people like you and Figes that have the problem. You’re like the Taliban – you would impose your fundamentalist beliefs on others and remove their freedom to do whatever they want when it comes to things like clothing and make-up.

  • harpo

    ‘But I did find it offensive that she drapped the union jack over the whole isles. Queen’s would be proud.’

    Jimmy Porter:

    I think you miss the point there. She didn’t drape the Union Jack over the British Isles – some kid in a contest did. There was a contest and Blue Peter watchers were invited to send entries in. So lots of kids did.

    One kid – I don’t know where they were from – sent in this entry that Zoe chose. The one with the Union Jack. Zoe didn’t design it – some kid did.

    I think all of this ‘I’m offended’ nonsense is just that – nonsense. Some British kid dares to design such a competition entry, so Irish nationalists get all offended about it when a NI Prod TV presenter selects it as one she likes. Big freakin deal.

    Suddenly it becomes a big conspiracy theory and blown out of all proportion. You have little to worry about if a competition entry on a kids TV show upsets you so much.

  • “You’re like the Taliban ”

    Is there a corollory of Godwin for this… and if not can I coin one?

  • harpo

    ‘But then again, perhaps she was raised to believe that the Red Hand is indeed a “British” symbol and that all of Ireland should indeed be coloured by the Union Flag (hey at least she’s not partitionist!), in which case it’s just a lack of education, and we should really blame her parents and the society she was brought up in…’


    Are you saying that the political wish to have our misguided brothers in the ROI return to the UK is due to a lack of education? Or is in some way not legitimate?

    If that is her view – that the ROI should return to the UK – what is wrong with that? So long as she pursues it via democratic means, isn’t she or anyone else allowed to hold whatever political view they want?

    As for the Red Hand being/not being a British symbol, it would be entirely in line with the desire for a UK composed of a united British Isles to see anything Irish as being a subset of British, just as Scottish and Welsh and English things are too. That was the situation from 1801 to 1921 – the Irish were part of the British family and Ireland was part of the UK. Thus the Red Hand was both Irish and British. Everything Irish was British. That may be seen as a unionist view, but there was such a view.

    This is why some unionists now insist on being seen only as British because at the time of partition to many being ‘Irish’ became something that meant ‘not British’. Many Free Staters felt that way. Irish meant the Free State while British meant the UK. They had escaped from the UK and that is what being Irish meant.

    That is why today we have a mix of beliefs on what Irish means. To some it means simply coming from the island of Ireland, and to unionists who think that way they are both Irish and British, in line with 1801-1921 thinking. They come from the island of Ireland but are part of the British family. To other unionists Irish is taken in the political meaning and it means ‘not British’. So if there is a straight choice between the two they choose British.

    If Zoe is a united British Isles girl then fair play to her. She can have any political view she wants. Can’t she? And in line with her ancestors she is free to consider the Red Hand as being a British symbol, isn’t she?

  • Harpo,

    “If Zoe is a united British Isles girl then fair play to her. She can have any political view she wants. Can’t she? And in line with her ancestors she is free to consider the Red Hand as being a British symbol, isn’t she?”

    She can consider the sky to be purple polka dotted if she likes, it wouldn’t make it true…

    She is as entitled to cover the entirety of these islands with the Red White and Blue as anyone else is to cover it with the Green White and Orange, neither one reflects the current reality.

    There seems to be a misconception that Ireland being part of the “British Isles” somehow makes it British, this is exactly that, a misconception, Great Britain is the present Scotland, England and Whales, Ireland is the present Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland.

    I would think that the British community in Ireland are perfectly entitled to refer to themselves as British, not because Ireland is British, however, but because they trace their roots to Britain, or view themselves as part of the British Nation, emerging from Great Britain. This is much the same as the Irish or Italians in America, who still view themselves as Irish even though their families may have been in America for generations…

    Please see another ongoing debate on slugger, which started about Gordon Brown and being “British”…

  • wild turkey

    Like the Taliban


    Figes states that rather than continuing to break down gender stereotypes, Blue Peter appears to be beefing them up and asks the question do we really need a full-size Barbie doll presenting the BBC’s flagship programme for children?

    I agree with Figes assessment and, do not think we really don’t need a barbie doll presenting blue peter. One of Figes points is what she perceives as the harm done to young girls. This does have anything to do with the regulation of morals, bare skinned or otherwise. You conveniently ignore to address the issue.

    But somehow this puts Figes, others and myself in the Taliban camp? You imply that Figes and I

    Would forbid girls to go to school.
    Ban women working outside the home, (precipitating a crisis in healthcare and education. )
    Prohibit women from leaving their home without a male relative If they do have them beaten up even or shot, by officers of the ministry for the protection of virtue and prevention of vice.
    Chop off the fingers of women wearing fingernail polish.

    Yeah right.

    If I do have a belief, fundamentalist or otherwise,it is that to dehumanise and objectify women, to present and judge women as sexual commodities is wrong. If the women’s movement of the sixties and beyond never occurred class acts like Zoe (and not Zoe the person, Zoe the packaged presenter) would be the monotonous norm.

    I am not trying to impose my views on anyone. Like I said, change the channel. Some people might like to switch to a beauty pageant, or Amos and Andy. Its your choice.

    Pope BuckfastXVI

    Is there a corollory of Godwin for this… and if not can I coin one?

    Godwin as in William Godwin author Enquiry Concerning Political Justice and lover of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft?

    I’m curious, coin it

    also, good point about hyphenated americans but then again, america is not (native americans excepted?) a contested geo-political space.

  • Ard Mhaca Jim

    Although the red hand is included in the flag for Tyrone, we all know that the red hand symbol has loyalist paramilitary connotations. There are plenty of murals throughout the north that demonstrate this.

    The fact that she also specifically chose a picture showing the Irish Republic coloured in the Union flag is even more evidence that Salmon is well aware of what they represent. Lets not delude ourselves by saying this woman is trying to represent the whole of Northern Ireland.

    If she doesn’t, what the hell was she at during the time she was supposed to be studying law at Queens?

  • WT, I was referring to godwins law

    OK, after a bit of research there doesn’t seem to be any about the taliban, so I’m going to coin a law…

    Hamills Law:
    In an online discussion where an accusation of similarity to The Taliban occurs as a juxtaposition fallacy it should be considered an ad hominem attack on the accused, and the accuser be judged to have lost the argument.

  • Mike

    Interesting, all this “barbie doll” talk.

    What it boils down to is that if a woman is attractive, and blonde, she must be vacuous and of limited intelligence. Even if she does have a law degree from NI’s top university.

    It’s pretty clear to me who has the regressive attitudes towards women.

  • topdeckomnibus

    I think Figes should employ her insightful skills about “The Professionals”.

    There is yer George Cowley not quite physically perfect after suffering injury in the cause of the Crown. And his best men Bodie and Doyle.

    Doyle (perhaps 27 years of age) is a veteran copper. He then goes undercover for CI5 but always on his old patch where all the villains know him to have been a straight copper. But apparently the villains can be relied upon to protect Blighty’s security by never tipping off the Russian agents who alawys also choose Doyles old beat as their UK operations base.

    This espionage parochialism is extremely handy because even ex SAS narrow eyed killer Bodie does not require his sat nav equipment.

    Cowley simply acquires the information and hales them over their special minicab radio system and says “It is Smithson Street” .. and Bodie is just around the corner in the good guys car .. a Ford.

    Occasionally ministers seek to employ Cowley but George often has to point out to them that they do not have jurisdiction over his department. There again the chief constable and the plod do not have jurisdiction over CI5 either.

    Does this Martin Ingram ever feel that The Professionals stereotyped him rather ?

    If ever there had been an episode in which the Swedish prime minister wandered on to Doyles old beat

    It was not my men says George ask that human rights girl respected by all sides Ann Blizzard.

  • topdeckomnibus

    Stereotyping ?

    Figes turn your attention to “The Professionals”

    There is yer George Cowley, physically imperfect due to injury in the hush hush service of the Crown.

    Doyle is about 27 but is a veteran copper. He goes undercover for CI5 but inevitably on his former beat where all the villains know him. The villains (cockerneee sparrahs etc) can be relied upon to preserve natioal security by never blowing Doyle to the foreign agents.

    Bodie is ex SAS but forgot his sat nav .. so happily all the action takes place on Doyles old beat. They merely have to be told the name of the street where the foreign johnnies are holed up and drive around the corner in the giir guys Ford car.

    Occasionally ministers brief Cowley in person but he is at pains to tell them they have no authority over his dept.

    Similarly when Bodie and Doyle drive (without due care and attention) to a scene such as a siege, they flash the CI5 card and tell the Plod they are taking over.

    So the minister does not have authority over CI5 but CI5 has authority over the police.

    I wonder about this role modelling power of the media.

    The Jock with his own authority independent of democratic or judicial authority.

    I wonder if I missed the episode in which the Swedish prime minister took a break at a mansion on Doyle’s old beat. An RN submarine lurks at the dockside on Doyles old beat.

    “Suffink a bit rum dahn da docks” sez one of Doyles sources on the manor.

    I wonder if Martin feel offended by that outrageous sort of stereotyping in the entertainment media ?

  • topdeckomnibus

    How did that happen ?

    “It is almost a ghost image Evie” says Acorah

    Evie cuddles up to well nourished Phil the cameraman.

    Phil doesn’t mind.

  • IJP

    This is typical ‘liberal literati’ stuff from the Guardian, but frankly not without a grain of truth.

    I suspect the author has mixed Zoe up with Orlaith McAllister for a lot of the time, which hardly helps anyone’s case.

    Zoe is a very talented girl and I think she’s been caught amidst a bizarre wave of controversy of the BBC’s, not her, making (she was appointed via a deliberately anti-English recruitment process, it is quite obvious that the plan is to ‘sex up’ the programme, and so on – but this is the BBC’s fault, not hers).

    One thing that is her fault is that incredibly annoying accent, which isn’t an ‘Ulster lilt’ but rather a ludicrous mix of attempted Anglo-Posh-deliberatelyoverplayedNorthDown. I defy anyone to say objectively it sounds anything other than atrocious – it’s certainly not how she spoke when I knew her!

    In that regard Zoe should take a leaf out of Orlaith McAllister’s book – if there were to be such a thing as ‘Received Ulster Pronunciation’, it should be based on the latter’s genuine ‘Ulster lilt’!

    (She was far too tall for me, by the way…)