TV & Satellite Week

The making of a MAVERICK

The story of BORIS JOHNSON’S life and career is told by those who know him best...


The Rise and Fall of Boris Johnson

Wed & Thu, 9pm, C4 (box set, Channel 4)

Like him or loathe him, Boris Johnson has been a controvers­ial figure over the past two decades, with many career highs and lows, as well as various scandals, including high-profile affairs, political gaffes and, of course, Partygate.

This week, C4’s in-depth four-part docuseries lays bare the former Prime Minister’s unconventi­onal childhood, his career and his eventful private life.

There are intriguing contributi­ons from political enemies and friends. But perhaps the most fascinatin­g interviews are with Petronella Wyatt and Jennifer Arcuri, who both had affairs with Johnson.

‘Most people get really hot and bothered that he’s this narcissist­ic womaniser. But the reality is, it comes from a place of insecurity and severe trauma,’ says Arcuri, who met Johnson at a tech conference in 2011. ‘It always struck me how terribly lonely this man was. I could see this emotional fragility.’

The series starts with an unflinchin­g look at Johnson’s difficult childhood. It’s revealed he was partially deaf until the age of eight. Then, at10, his mother, Charlotte, was admitted to a psychiatri­c unit for nine months.

Meanwhile, his father, Stanley, was largely absent, and with rumours of his serial affairs with other women, Charlotte and Stanley divorced when Johnson was a teenager. Many believe it was this unhappy childhood that fuelled Johnson’s long-standing desire to become Prime Minister.

‘I think that’s what ultimately drove him into politics,’ says former colleague and journalist Rachel Sylvester. ‘It wasn’t about some political mission. It was about power in order to protect himself.’

After some false starts and a few years in the political wilderness, Johnson’s dream came true when Theresa May was toppled as Prime Minister in 2019.

Yet, just three years later, he suffered one of the biggest political downfalls sparked by scandals including Partygate.

‘Boris is a great wordsmith.

He’s someone who dominates a room,’ says his former director of communicat­ions Will Walden.

‘Clearly there is this monstrousl­y confident ego, but he’s also an extraordin­arily complicate­d character. He’s capable of immense personal kindness, but at the same time he’s immensely flawed.’

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