People really will do anything to get on TV these days. Whether it’s subsisting on a diet of bugs and animal genitals in I’m a Celebrity; becoming a walking Tinder profile in Love Island; or doing whatever horrible thing it is you have to do to get on season 89 of Big Brother; it seems like there’s no indignity people won’t subject themselves to, so long as it gives them a shot at their moment the spotlight.
I’ll never look down on somebody for pretending to laugh at Ant and Dec’s jokes ever again – at least they didn’t cash in their legacy as a former G7 leader just so they could be made fun of on Gogglebox.
Of course, Boris isn’t the first Conservative politician to be seduced by the siren song of uncle-baiting infotainment programming. Jacob Rees-Mogg currently hosts State of the Nation, an hour-long slot on GB News every weeknight, and Nadine Dorries has a Friday night chat show on TalkTV that apparently – let me just Google something quickly… – still hasn’t been cancelled. Really? I mean, good for her. It’s important to keep busy.
Maybe Boris was just jealous of the overwhelmingly positive coverage Matt Hancock received last year on I’m a Celebrity, and couldn’t resist getting a piece of the action. Better this than getting punched in the face by a former Stoke City midfielder, I suppose.
Putting aside for a moment the horrifying implications Johnson’s latest career move has on the current state of UK politics, I have to say… I can’t wait. Boris Johnson may be bad at a lot of things – telling the truth, responding to a global pandemic, basic human empathy – but even I’ll admit that he’s entertaining.
Back when I was a kid, Johnson used to be my favourite recurring guest on Have I Got News For You, and with good reason. He’s funny. He’s charismatic. He can talk good, like a real smart guy. Of course this was all before… you know. The various horrors. But still, if you can look past that, he’s got jokes!
His new show – and details remain scant – has real potential to be the television event of the year, if producers play their cards right. Imagine Boris sitting there, talking over his guests, launching into inexplicable digressions about Latin poetry, taking advantage of absolutely every opportunity he can to get a dig in on Rishi Sunak. It’ll be a glorious car crash, like a posh Jeremy Kyle Show, but – based on his conduct towards the end of his premiership – presumably with more swearing.
We’ve been trying to get one over on the Americans for years now, and look: we gave a former head of state his own TV show and a license to be as petty as possible. The US could never dream of such levels of excess. We all joked about Trump going back to The Apprentice after he got bored of being president, but he never actually had the stones to go through with it. Who’s the Idiocracy-style dystopia now, America?
His transition to what amounts to professional clowning (as opposed to the purely amateur clowning he was doing while in office) might be a black mark on the sterling reputation of British political discourse. He may give a torrid right wing TV station mired in controversy, more mire and controversy.
But I can’t lie: I’ll be tuning in to watch. Along with the rest of you.