…Adam Boulton. If PM stood for ‘Prize Muppet’. If you ask me. At 10.00 last Thursday, the election officially finished (unless you were locked in somewhere), and a month of strict broadcasting restrictions were finally lifted. For some, like Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night, this meant the resumption of no holds barred piss-taking and satire, for others, like Adam Boulton, it meant dropping the thin veil of political impartiality which led to some heated, and hilarious exchanges live on air with Alastair Campbell that were quite unprofessional.
With such an unusual result expected in this Election, I recorded Channel 4’s show (featuring Jimmy Carr, David Mitchell, Charlie Brooker and Lauren Laverne) so that I could follow all the drama unfolding on the BBC. And I wasn’t disappointed as Dimbleby, Paxman, and the events themselves served up some classic moments. And amongst all that, the shape of the week’s historic Election fallout were quickly signposted. First by Harriet Harman, and then Peter Mandelson within the first five minutes of coverage. After that the Labour Party quickly lined up one after another, sporting everything but a ‘I agree with Nick’ t-shirt.
The Spectacle Of Elections
After a few hours of this spectacle, I decided I should have a look at the Sky News coverage. To see how they were handling the fact that Cameron, chosen by News International Ltd., hadn’t managed to win the Election. And with perfect timing, I stumbled upon the following exchange between Boulton and Campbell. It starts off amicably enough, but as it goes on, Boulton gets angrier and angrier, and loses his cool shouting in a very undignified manner after Campbell makes some claims about media bias…
That was about my limit of Sky News coverage (bar Kay Burley being heckled live on air by ‘Fair Votes’ protesters) until yesterday, when Boulton and Campbell met face to face shortly after Gordon Brown’s resignation speech. Campbell couldn’t resist winding Boulton up, as he continued to pursue an agenda that seemed determined to ignore, and disregard the Nation’s Constitution, perhaps because the Election hadn’t delivered the result that some areas of the media had invested so heavily in.
The Thick Of It
It was a classic comedy moment, as well as being highly unprofessional in my view. It could have been lifted straight out of an episode of The Thick Of It. Just to rub salt in to the wounds, Campbell later posted on Twitter the following ‘tweet’.
“Really worried about Adam Boulton . . . Wonder if he might need some of my pills. Anji ought to come home from her foreign trip”.
Ouch. Almost as if Malcolm Tucker himself had briefed other Labour members on which buttons to press. The right ones to get Boulton to crack. Ben Bradshaw did so only a few hours later…
Maybe poor Adam is suffering from a lack of sleep from working some late hours over the last week. Maybe this affected his judgement, or performance, but I’ve found the whole affair rather fascinating. It’ll be interesting to see if there are any more ‘confrontations’ over the coming days.
Returning to the BBC’s Election Night coverage, there were as I said many great tv moments to be found. Paxman, as always, gave value for money, particularly his little dig to David Steel referencing his infamous Spitting Image characterisation of being in David Owen’s pocket. David Dimbleby offered up some gems too. Particularly his put downs and dismissive attitude to Rory Cellan-Jones and his ‘Social Networking’ angle of reporting. Add to that some slightly bizarre moments thrown up by Andrew Neil interviewing a lot of rich celebrities. They gathered together for an extravagant boat party, apparently funded by the License Fee. The BBC was the place to be on the night.
Channel 4’s Alternative Election Night, a four hour mixture of live hosts and pre-recorded segments, was also great fun too. I thought all the hosts worked well, especially Charlie Brooker’s You Have Been Watching and Newswipe sections. They had their usual mixture of razor-sharp satire and intellectual wit. And some schoolboy level humour for good measure. And on Friday night, for those of us still wanting some political humour to make us feel better about the worrying state of our country, Have I Got Election News For You got a great scoop by getting Lembit Opik on the show as one of the contestants. They gave him a hard time, as would be expected. But to be fair to him, I thought he took it in quite good spirit.
So to sum up the Election, there was no overall winner this time around, except perhaps humour and satire.