Piers Mor­gan

‘Piers, you pro­vide the Churchill spirit in this coun­try,’ said Sa­jid Javid

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS -

MON­DAY, APRIL 30 Chris Tar­rant in­ter­viewed me at Good Morn­ing Bri­tain’s stu­dios for new ra­dio sta­tion Love Sport. I was cu­ri­ous how he felt about Who Wants To Be A Mil­lion­aire? be­ing re­vived with Jeremy Clark­son as host.

(For per­spec­tive, if Clark­son sud­denly re­placed me on GMB, I’d throw my­self off Tower Bridge… tied to heavy weights.)

Tar­rant’s face con­torted into a va­ri­ety of the ex­pres­sions he used with con­tes­tants dur­ing his 16-year ten­ure as quiz mas­ter: pain, hor­ror, ex­as­per­a­tion, shock, be­muse­ment and, fi­nally, amuse­ment.

Even­tu­ally he said: ‘The truth is that when I first heard about Clark­son I gave it a few sec­onds’ thought and then re­alised I truly and hon­estly… didn’t give a toss!’

Af­ter­wards, I en­coun­tered a mur­der­ous­look­ing Janet Street-Porter as she stomped to Loose Women. Nor­mal TV cus­tom dic­tates that when two pre­sen­ters meet by chance, they shower each other with fake com­pli­ments even if they hate each other. ‘Morn­ing Janet!’ I ex­claimed cheer­fully. ‘F**K OFF, MOR­GAN!’ she bel­lowed back, not break­ing stride. ‘Sorry?’ ‘Late night!’ she cack­led, not both­er­ing even to turn around.

TUES­DAY, MAY 1 Two months ago, I wrote in this col­umn: ‘I’d take Am­ber Rudd as Prime Min­is­ter any time – she’s a smart cookie with a good sense of hu­mour who ex­udes a re­as­sur­ing air of self­con­fi­dent au­thor­ity.’

Per­haps inevitably af­ter my en­thu­si­as­tic en­dorse­ment, she’s now been forced to quit as Home Sec­re­tary over the Win­drush scan­dal.

Rudd’s re­place­ment is Sa­jid Javid, who – at the risk of wreck­ing his lead­er­ship am­bi­tions – has also im­pressed me.

I par­tic­u­larly en­joyed his re­cent GMB ap­pear­ance, when I asked him if Bri­tain needed a more ‘Churchillian spirit’ in deal­ing with the EU over Brexit.

‘Piers, I think YOU pro­vide the Churchillian spirit in this coun­try,’ he replied.

Mr Javid would do well to heed this ad­vice from Sir Win­ston as he takes over the most dif­fi­cult job in gov­ern­ment: ‘The pes­simist sees dif­fi­culty in ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. The op­ti­mist sees the op­por­tu­nity in ev­ery dif­fi­culty.’

WED­NES­DAY, MAY 2 Bumped into con­tro­ver­sial out­go­ing Coro­na­tion Street pro­ducer Kate Oates in the ITV cor­ri­dors. She’s been ac­cused of mak­ing the sto­ry­lines too grim by fea­tur­ing male rape, sex traf­fick­ing, sui­cide and mur­der.

‘I’m still avail­able to play Kym Marsh’s new love in­ter­est,’ I said.

‘That’s too dark,’ she gri­maced, ‘even for me.’

FRI­DAY, MAY 4 To Lady Mar­garet School in Par­sons Green, west London, for Ra­dio 4’s

Any Ques­tions. To my sur­prise, I was left to have a pre-show din­ner alone with two other pan­el­lists – An­drea Lead­som, Leader of the House of Com­mons, and Emily Thorn­berry, shadow For­eign Sec­re­tary.

To my greater sur­prise, given we’ve pre­vi­ously locked horns on air, the meal was very con­vivial. Es­pe­cially when the con­ver­sa­tion turned to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and, more specif­i­cally, sex ro­bots.

‘Ap­par­ently the big­gest cus­tomers are lonely, wid­owed old men,’ I ven­tured. ‘So they serve a rather laud­able, higher pur­pose.’

‘Oh what a load of non­sense!’ snorted An­drea, who has a touch of Mag­gie Thatcher about her. We moved on to Pres­i­dent Trump, whom Emily loathes.

‘You’d prob­a­bly like him if he joined us now for din­ner,’ I said.

‘NO, I WOULDN’T!’ She re­torted, stab­bing her shep­herd’s pie with a fork so vi­o­lently the ta­ble shook.

I asked who she thought was her most ca­pa­ble op­po­nent in the Tory ranks. ‘Am­ber Rudd,’ she replied, in­stantly and sin­cerely.

As we walked to the school, Emily be­gan fran­ti­cally puff­ing on a cig­a­rette. ‘Ner­vous?’ I asked. ‘Oh God, I al­ways get so anx­ious be­fore these things. It some­times makes me feel phys­i­cally sick. I did Ques­tion Time two weeks ago and started shout­ing too much be­cause I was so wound up.’

I found this ad­mis­sion rather en­dear­ing. It’s of­ten too easy to for­get that politi­cians are ac­tual hu­man be­ings.

The AI dis­cus­sion con­tin­ued in the green room with our fourth pan­el­list, writer Jeanette Win­ter­son. ‘I rather like the idea of a ro­bot Prime Min­is­ter,’ I sug­gested. ‘We al­ready have one…’ she coun­tered. Be­fore we went live, host Jonathan Dim­bleby warned us to be care­ful about how we hy­drated our­selves.

‘On tele­vi­sion the view­ers can see what you’re do­ing. On ra­dio, es­pe­cially if you pour too close to the mi­cro­phone, it can sound like some­thing al­to­gether less in­no­cent.’

To demon­strate, he then took a bot­tle and poured it into his glass right by his mic. It did in­deed sound like some­one uri­nat­ing.

As with the TV coun­ter­part, the panel gets a dummy ques­tion to warm ev­ery­one up. Ours tonight was: ‘How would you wish to be re­mem­bered if you live to be 100?’

I an­swered: ‘I doubt I’ll live that long, but if I do, and then die, I’d ex­pect my tomb­stone to say: he will be sorely missed by a grate­ful na­tion.’ To which the packed school hall burst into cru­elly hys­ter­i­cal laugh­ter.

Lead­som went next: ‘I’d say: love me, hate me, just don’t ig­nore me.’ No won­der we got on so well. Af­ter a fun show, dur­ing which I de­clared ‘I’m a fem­i­nist’ to fur­ther gasps of in­credulity, I was ap­proached by a large group of stu­dents.

Dim­bleby looked on in dis­be­lief as the im­pres­sively in­tel­li­gent and con­fi­dent young ladies pep­pered me for ad­vice about how women can best suc­ceed in life. ‘I’m a fem­i­nist icon, Jonathan,’ I ex­plained. ‘God help us all!’ he roared.

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