The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE -


I’ve been booked to ap­pear on next week’s Ques­tion Time, so tuned in tonight to see if host David Dim­bleby tried any­thing tricksy when he an­nounced my forth­com­ing ap­pear­ance.

‘Next week…’ he said, ‘Our panel will in­clude the broad­caster Piers Mor­gan.’

Dim­bleby then de­lib­er­ately paused and pursed his lips like he’d sucked a par­tic­u­larly sharp lemon, which of course en­cour­aged the au­di­ence to fill the air with pan­tomime vil­lain boos. ‘I didn’t ask for that!’ he smirked, de­light­edly, know­ing that’s exactly what he was ask­ing for.


The most cred­i­ble com­pli­ments are al­ways those wrenched from long-time crit­ics.

‘Piers Mor­gan’s an oaf, a tool, a buf­foon, an out-of-con­trol trunk bucket, a hu­man wreck­ing ball, a wal­nut-brained ego­ma­niac, the punch­line to a bril­liant joke he’ll never get,’ wrote The Sun’s TV pun­dit Ally Ross to­day. ‘He’s a smirk jerk, clam jam, and a yawn­ing great t**topo­to­mus with a sur­pris­ingly small mouth but enor­mous bald­ing head.’

Then it came: ‘Piers is also – and I say this through heav­ily grit­ted teeth – one of the best things to ever hap­pen to Bri­tain’s break­fast tele­vi­sion.’

This is what we call in the news­pa­per trade a ‘dropped in­tro’.


In my pre­dic­tions for 2017, I de­clared: ‘On the 50th an­niver­sary of the world’s first heart trans­plant, Lord Sugar an­nounces he has ap­plied to have one. The ap­pli­ca­tion’s re­jected be­cause doc­tors find no ev­i­dence of any ex­ist­ing heart in his body.’ To­day, it emerged Sugar’s just had emer­gency heart surgery to fix a nar­rowed artery with the in­ser­tion of a stent. The old growler’s tried all man­ner of ruses to prove my pre­dic­tions wrong over the years, but this is ridicu­lous.


To Ques­tion Time in Peter­bor­ough.

‘You chucked me un­der a mas­sive bus last week!’ I re­mon­strated as David Dim­bleby ar­rived in the green room.

‘I most cer­tainly did not,’ he re­torted. ‘I just let the words “Piers Mor­gan” hang in the air and the au­di­ence re­acted ac­cord­ingly…’

The panel, which this week in­cluded the Bri­tain’s shadow for­eign sec­re­tary, Emily Thorn­berry and the trans­port sec­re­tary, Chris Grayling, is al­ways given a dummy ques­tion to warm every­one up be­fore the real pro- gramme starts. I was mind­ful of the ad­vice Roy Hat­ter­s­ley once gave me: ‘Make them laugh dur­ing the fake ques­tion and they’ll be on your side the whole pro­gramme.’

Tonight it was whether cannabis should be le­galised.

‘Ever had a spliff, David?’ I asked the host, as the au­di­ence roared.

‘No!’ he ex­claimed in­dig­nantly, and some­what im­plau­si­bly as he once cam­paigned in the Six­ties to de­crim­i­nalise the drug.

‘Not even a cheeky one where you didn’t in­hale?’ ‘NO!’ It was a fun, feisty show no­table for the fact I never once got booed, even when I de­fended Don­ald Trump.

In fact, highly un­usu­ally, I got loudly ap­plauded for vir­tu­ally ev­ery­thing I said.

At the post-show din­ner, we dis­cussed the fact this was my 21st ap­pear­ance.

‘Do I get a car­riage clock or some­thing, David?’ I asked. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘We save those for our long­est-run­ning guests.’ ‘I can’t be far off, surely?’ A pro­ducer pulled out a chart that re­vealed I’m now the 31st most reg­u­lar liv­ing pan­el­list, a list led by Shirley Williams (56 times) and Ken Clarke (55). But, cru­cially, I’m the third most reg­u­lar non-politi­cian liv­ing pan­el­list af­ter Me­lanie Phillips (25) and Peter Hitchens (23).

‘We ac­tu­ally had one sug­gested ques­tion from an au­di­ence mem­ber tonight ask­ing if you were going to re­place me as host,’ said Dim­bleby. ‘I said it was point­less de­bat­ing it be­cause there was no way you’d take such a mas­sive pay cut…’

‘Have you re­ally never had a spliff?’ I asked. ‘I don’t recog­nise the term,’ he replied. Then he broke into a gi­ant grin: ‘In my day they were called joints.’

I sat next to Emily and teased her about Labour’s be­lea­guered leader, Calamity Cor­byn. ‘The way your party mem­ber­ship’s now set up, he could be there for an­other 1,000 years. You guys might be doomed to a mil­len­nium of fail­ure.’

‘I have one word for you, Piers,’ she smiled, as the ta­ble fell silent. ‘B ******* !’

At 10.30pm, every­one sud­denly left. ‘There’s a prob­lem with the trains,’ ex­plained a QT as­sis­tant. All eyes turned to Grayling. ‘He’s going by car…’ ex­plained his spe­cial ad­viser.


Last sum­mer, Jen­nifer Anis­ton wrote a blog moan­ing about how aw­ful it is that every­one objectifies her body all the time, and how harm­ful this is to women gen­er­ally.

I re­sponded by point­ing out this was a bit rich given the vast num­ber of heav­ily air­brushed, semi-naked magazine cov­ers Ms Anis­ton has posed for over the years.

‘The least stars like Jen­nifer can do in re­turn for the mas­sive fi­nan­cial and ca­reer boost these fake cov­ers bring them,’ I wrote, ‘is to stop pre­tend­ing it’s all every­one else’s fault that im­pres­sion­able young girls strug­gle with their own beauty and body im­ages.’

Now, in an in­ter­view for Va­ri­ety, she says she was happy the furore made ‘a lit­tle bit’ of dif­fer­ence. ‘It’s def­i­nitely in peo­ple’s con­scious­ness a lot more,’ she opined. Then she added: ‘But you’re al­ways going to have the Piers Mor­gans of the world con­tra­dict­ing some­thing that comes from the heart and say­ing, “You’re a hyp­ocrite.’” Well, yes, Jen, you are – if you’re a hyp­ocrite.

‘I don’t recog­nise the term “spliff”. In my day they were called joints,’ grinned David Dim­bleby

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