Never mind watching any other TV mini-series out there, this three-part BBC exploration and examination of the inexorable rise of Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch made for fascinating and compulsive viewing.
A heady mix of Lear-esque dynastic feuding amongst his three children, media manipulation involving future British Prime Ministers and U.S. Presidents (guess which ones!), unimaginable wealth, power politics, sleazy journalism and yes, even sex as he twice remarries, both times to much younger women and most recently to Jerry Hall of all people, you just couldn't print this stuff.
With no active participation of any of the main Murdoch family members, the programmes were relatively free to dig deep and leave no stone unturned in bringing to light the often murky inside track on the many controversial episodes with which Murdoch has been involved. Interviews with past employees, such as previous editors of his papers, old enemies such as F1 boss Max Mosely and actor Hugh Grant and ex-staffers of the Trump administration, this lurid tale follows Murdoch all the way from his humble beginnings starting with one Australian newspaper to owning literally dozens of media-based companies in Britain, America and across Asia.
A recognised power-broker through the major influence carried by the likes of the Sun newspaper in Britain and Fox News in the States, it was both eye-opening and stomach-churning to see the likes of Blair, Cameron and Trump fawning at the feet of king-maker Rupert. The closest he came to crashing to Earth was over the shameful and heinous phone-hacking scandal which was exposed in his U.K scandal-sheet the "News Of The World", a practice which saw the paper give free-reign to its journalists tapping into the mobile phone accounts of celebrities, politicians and worst of all even murder victims such as young Millie Dowling. In front of a U.K. government committee we get to see Murdoch and his son James squirm and turn but unsurprisingly a scapegoat was fed to the wolves and went to jail, the newspaper was summarily cancelled, making hundreds of staff redundant in the process, while the major players like the Murdochs and favoured employees like Rebekah Brooks lived to return another day.
In recent years, Murdoch hitched his wagons to those two major opportunists in Britain and America, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, in effect helping influence two of the most epochal political decisions in both these countries, the 2016 Brexit vote and the Trump victory over Hillary Clinton in that year's U.S. election, the consequences of which we are and will be living with for years to come. All this, by an opportunist, ambitious Australian-born press-baron who probably didn't even qualify to vote in either process.
The series ends with Murdoch high in the saddle again with his new celebrity-model wife, company succession to one of his anointed children resolved by default and the sale of most of his media interests to of all companies, the Disney Corporation for billions of dollars.
Lord Sugar in the programme waxes lyrical over Murdoch's achievements but in this it's he who is the sorcerer's apprentice. Other supporters of Murdoch might carp, but I found the programmes to be as balanced as they could be without the Murdochs' own involvement outside of archive footage.
Media monster or media master? In the final analysis I would say he was both.