How (Not) To Party: the bizarre ending to last night’s Andrew Neil show

If you want to laugh at people who have held some of the highest offices of state, dancing to Underworld’s Born Slippy, read and view on …

Picture the scene: you’ve just come home from moderating a discussion group across in Peterborough, you’re a bit tired and you flop down to watch the end of Question Time. The usual tweetfest kicks in about an annoying judge, a business leader out of his depth talking about public affairs, a bumptious Conservative that I think was one of the Famous Five, some fact-laden Marxian analysis from a journo and an MP who looked and sounded Tory but was actually Labour. Then it finishes, the twitter torrent subsides, as sensible people go to bed – it’s 11.30pm. But the political junkies hang on for This Week, hosted by Andrew Neil (Brillo Pad to Private Eye readers – that is, most of the show’s late night audience). It’s usually pretty entertaining but not something I would post on in Strangers On The Shore. But this week’s This Week had a pretty special ending, which is worthy of a spot on here. Bear in mind, this is ostensibly a political discussion show:

By now I was back on twitter and watching the late night gasps of amazement and horror tumble in on #bbctw. Remarkably, This Week was actually trending on twitter for a few mad minutes. The consensus: a truly remarkable piece of broadcasting. This is what you can do with the freedom of having a niche but pretty loyal audience in a late night slot.

Pick your own micro-highlight if you will:

  • Michael Portillo‘s flitting between a zoned-out gape and realistic E-ed up teeth-grinding mime
  • Jacqui Smith‘s limited range trance-like wrist-pointing
  • Andrew Neil’s adventures on the wheels of steel

You have to pinch yourself to remember we have a former Conservative Defence Secretary, a former Labour Home Secretary and a heavyweight BBC political commentator happily making arses of themselves here, albeit to a tiny late night audience of people like me. Oh and Andi Osho, who did well to maintain some dignity. But all credit to all of them, it made my night.

One of the twitterati, with an admirable Half Man Half Biscuit -inspired twitter moniker (@lookdadnotunes), tweeted to me the last performance on a political tv programme to approach these levels of embarrassing behaviour: Jeremy Vine‘s cowboy act during the BBC’s 2008 election coverage:

What can you say to that? Except to observe that comedy is a high risk business. Behavioural economics tells us that due to the universal human trait of loss aversion, people give roughly twice as much weight to a negative outcome than the equivalent positive outcome. In comedy, make that 20 times. It’s on there forever Jeremy. I guess comedian brother Tim hogged all the comedy-talent-inducing Shredded Wheat in the Vine family. Which brings us back to Andrew Neil’s hair …

Published by Simon Riley

Qualitative researcher in the UK. I listen to people from all walks of life and think about what it all means. I work for leading brands, media companies and government.

One thought on “How (Not) To Party: the bizarre ending to last night’s Andrew Neil show

  1. Good grief. I need about six pints before I could even consider doing that, and probably six more before I could do it on television. And I don’t thank that’s simply the repressed 1970s Norn Iron clergy brat coming out – I really do think that applies to more or less anyone I know over the age of 35. Presumably Portaloo and the less than successful Labour lady really have given up any hope or intention of elected office. I was going to say that maybe this is one of the things that changed on the day of infamy, 31 August 1997, but maybe not. In fact definitely not. This is ironic, self-deprecating and fun; what was the turning point for that aspect of our culture – one which is at war, on a daily basis, with the 310897 sensibility?


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