“Hannah and Colin Ingram-Moore declined to take part in this programme,” a caption read at the end of Captain Tom: Where Did the Money Go? (Channel 5). Thank goodness for that. Anyone who watched their self-incriminating interview with Piers Morgan for TalkTV a few weeks back will know that these two are an absolute disaster area in front of the camera.
Whether through naivety or arrogance, the couple thought they could sit down with one of Britain’s sharpest interviewers and convince him – and us – about the merits of their “spa pool” and the pocketing of up to £800,000 from her father’s books. What a fall from grace.
Where Did The Money Go? was a recap of the sorry tale – from the initial good news story of Sir Tom’s wonderful charity fundraising to the murkiness surrounding the Captain Tom Foundation. It was one of those efficient current-affairs documentaries which ITN Productions regularly churn out for Channel 5, featuring many of the broadcaster’s talking heads: Jeremy Vine, Carole Malone, Nick Ferrari and the like. Vine was kind. “I feel very sorry for Hannah. I think she was a bit out of her depth. I think she has taken punishment enough,” he said.
It is a peculiarly British thing, he suggested, that when we see a seemingly perfect story we can’t wait to attack it with a sledgehammer. The problem is that the British public doesn’t like to feel like it’s been had. As Malone pointed out: “You don’t need a swimming pool in a museum.” (The initial planning permission was for a Captain Tom Foundation building housing memorabilia and the 150,000 birthday cards that he had received.)
The programme took us right up to this week, when the local council ordered that the building be demolished. There were no revelations here for anyone who has followed the story. The most valuable element of the programme was the footage reminding us of Sir Tom himself – not just of the millions he raised and the good work he did, but the humility and dignity with which he carried himself. We must not let the grubbiness of what came later tarnish his memory.