I was talking to a friend recently about characters in comic books and it struck me how Robert Peston is really just like Batman.

We were discussing how comic heroes often have sidekicks as a device to help the author establish the detail of a story. It’s particularly important for comic book stories as there often isn’t enough space for narrative, what with mere speech bubbles, to get the subtleties across. I particularly remember watching an arts programme, probably late night on BBC2, where a member of the panel of pundits who held a particular political perspective suggested that there was a latent gay undercurrent with the presence of Robin in the Batman comics. At this the pundit who really was an expert on comic books laughed out loud and explained that the reason Batman has Robin is so that Robin can ask all the stupid questions that might be in the mind of the audience and so explain the plot. The same thing is true of Inspector Morse with Lewis where they will have a pint in the pub and Morse will explain to Lewis what is really going on. Holmes has Watson, The Lone Ranger has Tonto, Don Quixote has Sancho Panza, etc. Of course sidekicks can perform other functions but in the case of Robert Peston this is what I’m talking about.


So when Robert Peston appears on the Radio 4 Today Programme or PM (I’m told he’s also on the TV news but I don’t have a TV) he is usually interviewed by the main presenter such as Evan Davis or Eddie Mair. So in this scenario Robert Peston is the guy with all the knowledge of what’s going on with collateralised debt obligations, the fiscal cliff or bonkers bankers’ bonuses. So Eddie Mair or Evan Davis get to ask the stupid questions that we, as listeners, might want answered. Of course Eddie or Evan probably know the answer to these questions, after all Evan Davis used to do Robert Peston’s job before he decided, in 2008, that nothing interesting ever happened in economics. Clearly Evan’s talent doesn’t lie in predicting the future. As for Eddie’s expertise I’m unsure but it may be stand-up.

So Robert Peston really is Batman, I’ve heard he has a cape and everything. Next week I’ll be pointing out the similarities between Kirsty Wark and Cinderella.