22 Apr 2014

Six tougher acts to follow than Sir Alex Ferguson

As David Moyes licks his wounds, a victim of his predecessor’s success, Channel 4 News would like him to take heart – there are many who have been forced to live in the shadow of “giants”.

Sean Connery/George Lazenby

There are people you should not trust. Someone who brings a baseball bat to a dinner party for example (Capone style), or according to Adam Ant, a man with egg on his face.

Someone else you should never trust is anyone who doesn’t think that Sean Connery was the greatest James Bond of all time (okay, this may be controversial, but we are sticking to our Berettas on this one). If you know someone who thinks otherwise, they may well have a Scottish independence-related agenda…

We should feel sorry, therefore, for former Australian model turned most forgettable Bond – George Lazenby.

A Guardian poll in 2012 found that people overwhelmingly vote for Connery as the best ever Bond – he garnered 46 per cent of the vote – while Lazenby came bottom with 3 per cent.

And it is not just in the poll stats where Lazenby suffers. Connery, due to the longevity of his Bond career (including the controversial Never Say Never Again – not made by Eon Productions), has by far the best record on Bond’s favourite hobbies – drinking Martinis, bedding women and killing bad guys.

Connery has drunk five Martinis, slept with eight women and killed 82 people as James Bond (according to jamesbondwiki.com). By comparison, Lazenby drunk one Martini, bedded three women and killed eight baddies.

While some reviews of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Lazenby’s one and only Bond outing, contained some positive words, many compared Lazenby unfavourably with his predecessor.

One such review, Donald Zec writing in the Daily Mirror, said: “He looks uncomfortably in the part like a size four foot in a size 10 gumboot.”

Steve Jobs and the guy who replaced him at Apple

After looking him up, we have discovered that the man who took over at the helm of Apple, following the tragic death of Steve Jobs in 2011, is Tim Cook. Sorry, Tim.

Tim Cook and Steve Jobs (pictures: Getty)

Above: Tim Cook (left) and Steve Jobs (right)

Jobs’s success as the chief executive of Apple is shown by the extent to which the company’s fortunes have been inextricably linked to his presence at the company.

Jobs’s genius was in recognising how innovations in computing could be combined to create products for the mass market – perhaps shown best by the Macintosh, the first mass-market computer with a graphical user interface and a mouse.

After the launch of Macintosh, Jobs was ousted from Apple. In the years that followed, according to Apple expert Paul Marc Davies, Apple was “just making these dull, dull beige boxes“. Apple’s share price stagnated until Jobs returned in 1996.

From that moment until his death, Jobs’ innovation, producing the iPhone and iPad amongst other gadgets, boosted Apple’s market capitalisation from $2.3bn to $342.9bn.

Mr Cook, the former chief operating officer at Apple, is still untested as the company’s chief executive. This is because, up until now, the new products Apple has been bringing out were worked on by Jobs.

It remains to be seen if Apple’s new products will taste as good without the company’s core (sorry for the joke).

Tony Blair/Gordon Brown

There was one winner in the Blair/Brown deal and it was not Gordon Brown. Having waited in the wings for a decade during Tony Blair’s premiership, Gordon Brown emerged into the light in 2007 to be rained on by leadership plots, rictus grins and angry Rochdale voters.

There was also the small matter of the global economy imploding.

Tony Blair, however, enjoyed 10 years in power – the longest serving term for a Labour prime minister – that saw strong economic growth and significant advances in the Northern Ireland peace process.

History, however, may be kinder to Mr Brown. His image is less tarnished by the Iraq war and the accusations levelled at Mr Blair over his involvement.

While Mr Blair still provokes controversy over his roles in the Middle East, Mr Brown has been working as the United Nations special envoy for global education – including working with Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.

Kim Jong-un/Kim Jong-il

Under Kim Jong-il, North Korea was consistently ranked by humanitarian charities as the worst country in the world for human rights atrocities.

North Korea’s second supreme leader oversaw the deaths of millions of his citizens, many in the 1990s famine caused by economic mismanagement and handled through a “public distribution system” that favoured the political elite and government loyalists.

Estimates for the number of dead range to as a high as 4 million.

Kim Senior carried out a number of purges during his reign, “substantially” expanded North Korea’s network of gulags, where hundreds of thousands of prisoners were detained, and left millions of people languishing in poverty and starvation.

There were hopes that Kim Junior, educated in Switzerland, might be a force for moderation in North Korea – but according to Human Rights Watch, these hopes were short lived.

“Kim Jong-Un has picked up where his father and grandfather left off, by overseeing a system of public executions, extensive political prison camps, and brutal forced labour,” says Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

There were murmurings of disquiet amongst North Korea’s senior ranks at the appointment of Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s third son, as supreme leader. The younger Kim’s response would no doubt have made his father proud – he has purged senior figures, including his uncle, and if you believe South Korean and Chinese news reports (which we do not recommend you necessarily do) his execution methods have ranged from flamethrower to savage dogs.

Until he gets parodied by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, however, Kim Jong-un will never achieve the level of notoriety reached by his father.

Freddie Mercury/Paul Rodgers

Of the many great musical frontmen, Freddie Mercury was amongst the very best. With Freddie on main vocals Queen dominated the 70s and 80s musical scene – releasing 18 number one albums and 18 number one singles, including “the UK’s favourite hit of all time”, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Mercury died in 1991 from bronchial pneumonia, a complication brought on by Aids. For five weeks following his death Bohemian Rhapsody was number one in the UK charts and the Freddie Mercury tribute concert the following year was “the largest rock star benefits concert” ever, according to the Guinness Book of Records (watched by 1.2 billion people and raising £20m for Aids charities.)

Such was the hole left by Mercury’s death in 1991 that it put an end to Queen’s touring until they reformed with Paul Rodgers, previously of Free and Bad Company, in 2005.

Queen were keen to stress that Rodgers was not a replacement for Mercury, and the band toured as “Queen + Paul Rodgers”.

The band performed at Nelson Mandela’s 90th Birthday Tribute to raise awareness of the HIV/Aids pandemic, and also performed in Ukraine’s Freedom Square in Kharkiv, and at sell out gigs in Moscow.

However, the one album released by the group, The Cosmos Rocks, failed to reach the meteoric album sales of Queen in its heyday (the band is estimated to have sold more than 150 million albums worldwide, include 6 million sales for Greatest Hits – the UK’s biggest selling album.)

Nelson Mandela/Thabo Mbeki

When it comes to tough acts to follow, it probably doesn’t get tougher than a man variously referred to as a “secular saint”, the “father of a nation” and the “founding father of democracy”. That’s quite a curriculum vitae.

Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki (pictures: Getty)

Above: Nelson Mandela (left) and Thabo Mbeki (right)

Indeed, if you’re having a pub debate over who is the greatest leader of all time, Nelson Mandela’s name is guaranteed to crop up.

Despite controversy around his early life (including allegations that he was a terrorist, most notably from Margaret Thatcher) the outpouring of grief at Mandela’s death last year shows the extent to which the first black South African president was loved – in his home country and abroad.

Indeed, the way he relinquished power was an act of magnanimity.

Stepping into Mandela’s shoes was Thabo Mbeki. While Thabo Mbeki did achieve positive things for South Africa, including strong economic growth, he was criticised across the world for his stance on the causes of HIV and Aids, and faced frequent protests over unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Indeed his replacement, Jacob Zuma, continues to be a source of some dissatisfaction amongst South Africans, in part due to allegations of corruption, which Mr Zuma has denied.

The chances of any South African being able to emerge from Nelson Mandela’s shadow any time soon are slim indeed.

What are great “tough acts to follow” are there? Tweet your thoughts to @Channel4News.