This week, Steph and Dom met Nigel Farage, and the results were about as funny as Mussolini
Back in 1990, some people thought it would be clever to create a sitcom about a couple who live next door to Adolf Hitler. It was called Heil Honey I’m Home! It was terrible. I thought a lot about Heil Honey I’m Home! this week. On an unrelated note, I just watched a one-off reality TV sex-comedy/real-life sitcom Steph and Dom meet Nigel Farage (C4, Monday). It involves a bickering, booze-hobbyist couple (the tipsy “posh couple” on Gogglebox) who run a guesthouse. They have a wacky neighbour who comes around to tea. He has a funny name.
“Is it Farage, Farage or Fridge?” asks Steph.
Nigel Fridge, grinning, blazer-wearing leader of the right-wing, anti-immigration political party Ukip, is “an ordinary bloke”. Well, an “ordinary bloke”, as might be designed by the aliens from Mars Attacks in an attempt to infiltrate human society. He loves his ale and his fags and he tucks his napkin into his collar before eating dinner, unlike you hoitytoity types who read The Irish Times and probably have butlers to clean you with a sponge after feeding. “I don’t think I know anyone in politics as poor as we are,” he says (he’s on a ¤96,246.36 salary as an MEP) and angels, immigrants and Eurocrats weep.
Politicians queue up to be on reality TV shows nowadays because they believe they can reach more people by being vacuously “relatable” than by writing a column in a newspaper or having coherent policies. If I was posh Nigel’s campaign manager, I’d push his commonman shtick even further. He could wear overalls and a flatcap. He could contract rickets and scurvy and TB. Or maybe he could carry a bindle and stick and wear a barrel like a Depression-era hobo.
Snowy-haired Dom takes crinkly-faced Nigel down the pub, where Nigel quaffs ale, glad-handles the barflies and bemoans having to smoke outside. “It’s the modern world isn’t it?” he says sadly. “You can’t have a smoke in a bar.”
“Or send children up chimneys or own people or die of a preventable infectious disease,” I add helpfully, from the couch.
Steph rings Dom. “Mrs P, she’s always going ‘Which pub are you in now?’” moans Dom. Nigel chuckles in recognition, for he knows women.
They go back to the guest house for dinner where they drink more booze. Steph spills wine on Nigel’s trousers. “I’m going to seriously have to take your trousers off,” she says, and in the afterlife Kenneth Williams and Enoch Powell say “Ooh Matron!” in unison. Steph gives him a pair of jeans with holes in the knee to change into. These make him, she notes, look like “a member of Bros”.
Steph and Dom gently grill Nigel about his policies. Occasionally they’re effective interrogators, but this may be due to the disinhibiting effects of alcohol (TV idea: Pissed Prime Time –a tooled-up Miriam O’Callaghan confronts drunk and fighty politicians in a pub car-park). Over the course of the discussion, Nigel says that he’s unlikely to ever be the British PM and that his role in Europe is largely symbolic because effecting change there is impossible. He also says that he has one testicle due to having cancer in his youth.
This is a genuinely humanising detail, but later, after listening to Nigel describing his
Like their predecessors on ‘Fawlty Towers’, they mention the war at every given opportunity
life in politics, Steph says, “You have to have balls of steel.” Nigel stares at her. “No pun intended,” she adds. Steph and Dom are sometimes, intentionally and unintentionally, hilarious. Like their guesthouse-owning predecessors on Fawlty Towers, they mention the war at every given opportunity. They show Nigel a photo they found online in which a microphone on front of his face makes him look like he has a Hitler moustache. Nigel stiffens.
“Didn’t that make you laugh?” asks Steph.
“I don’t think Hitler is funny,” he says.
“I agree with that,” says Steph, eager to be on the taking-Hitler-seriously bandwagon.
There’s a solemn pause. “Mussolini can be quite funny,” says Nigel. In fact, he says, he knows Mussolini’s MEP granddaughter. I scribble down a sitcom idea in my notebook.