Has a bit of snap gone out of Michael Gove’s celery? HENRY DEEDES sees the dreary politicos return

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September is upon us. The blackberries are in fruit. The days are growing shorter. And the Sunday morning political shows have returned.

That’s right. Pack away the sun lounger, the holiday season is over. The dreary politicos are back.

The BBC’s Andrew Marr and Sky’s Sophy Ridge are now on even earlier. Marr has reverted to its original time of 9am. The decision to broadcast later wasn’t the ratings bonanza the producers hoped for apparently.

Ridge, in turn, has shunted back to 8.30am. Political hacks working the Sunday shift, I can report, are less than thrilled.

The Ridge show is currently sans Sophy so filling in is Stephen Dixon, a decent wind-up merchant with a touch of the Eddie Mairs about him. Every now and again you half expect him to give a Fleabag-style wink at the camera.

Dixon had to make do with David Gauke as his main interview. I say ‘make do’ because the ex-justice minister is far from scintillating. Television gold he ain’t.

Gauke is the unofficial shop steward for former Conservative ministers trying to stop a No Deal Brexit. Possibly this is because it gives them the opportunity to call themselves the ‘Gaukward squad’, or perhaps just because he’s mildly less dull than Phil Hammond or Greg Clark.

Michael Gove, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, appeared on Marr this morning to say he wasn’t going to play ball on Starmer’s No Deal legislation to make it illegal. They’d look at it if and when it happens, he said insouciantly

Michael Gove, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, appeared on Marr this morning to say he wasn’t going to play ball on Starmer’s No Deal legislation to make it illegal. They’d look at it if and when it happens, he said insouciantly

Michael Gove, now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, appeared on Marr this morning to say he wasn’t going to play ball on Starmer’s No Deal legislation to make it illegal. They’d look at it if and when it happens, he said insouciantly

Threatening to become an independent MP if the Prime Minister pursues No Deal, he remarked: ‘Sometimes there is a point where you have to judge between your own personal interests and the national interest. And the national interest has to come first.’

Bushy-browed Mr Gauke not only looks more like Sam the Eagle from The Muppets by the day, he’s growing almost as pompous.

More entertaining was the two-way interview which followed with Labour’s John McDonnell.

The Shadow Chancellor was, as ever, a model of folksy charm and spray-on sincerity. Dressed in a scarlet woolly knit and tie, if it had been anyone else I’d have assumed they’d just returned from a shoot on a nearby estate.

He chose to be interviewed at home. Which is odd. Mr McDonnell’s Hayes and Harlington constituency is mere 20-minute drive from Sky’s west London studios, or so Google Maps tells me.

We heard from Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit minister, or ‘Sir Keir’ as Marr kept saying, to the former director of public prosecutions’s evident irritation. Sir Keir wants to make No Deal illegal. Everything about him screams lawyer, doesn’t it? That adenoidal legal patois, the slightly superior mien

We heard from Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit minister, or ‘Sir Keir’ as Marr kept saying, to the former director of public prosecutions’s evident irritation. Sir Keir wants to make No Deal illegal. Everything about him screams lawyer, doesn’t it? That adenoidal legal patois, the slightly superior mien

We heard from Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit minister, or ‘Sir Keir’ as Marr kept saying, to the former director of public prosecutions’s evident irritation. Sir Keir wants to make No Deal illegal. Everything about him screams lawyer, doesn’t it? That adenoidal legal patois, the slightly superior mien

One can only assume he felt this cosy image of domesticity – floral curtains, soft table lamp lighting – made his economic plans seem a little less terrifying to viewers. Over on BBC1, it was business as usual with The Andrew Marr Show. In the 15-odd years since he inherited David Frost’s Sunday morning mantle, the programme has stuck rigidly to its format.

The only noticeable difference has been Mr Marr’s hair which has gone through more shades of auburn than a Dulux colour chart. It was a dark chestnut hue yesterday. It looked fine but I’m not certain it would survive a short splatter of rain.

We heard from Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit minister, or ‘Sir Keir’ as Marr kept saying, to the former director of public prosecutions’s evident irritation.

Sir Keir wants to make No Deal illegal. Everything about him screams lawyer, doesn’t it? That adenoidal legal patois, the slightly superior mien.

Every time Marr raised an issue of law, Sir Keir’s little rubber shoes tapped the floor excitedly. He even had the brass neck to suggest questions his host should ask Michael Gove who was up next.

Gove is now Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, a meaningless job title Marr suggested unnecessarily. The same could be said of many of Andrew’s colleagues at the BBC.

Gove wasn’t going to play ball on Starmer’s No Deal legislation. They’d look at it if and when it happens, he said insouciantly.

But I did wonder if a bit of snap has gone out of The Govester’s celery? He seems less zingy since the summer. It’s possible he simply needed an extra hour in bed, in which case I felt his pain.

Still, he saw off Marr’s fast bowling with customary calm and politeness and remains the Government’s best television performer by a country mile.

Tomorrow, Parliament returns from summer recess briefly until it is prorogued for the Queen’s Speech. It’s possible a lively week lies ahead.

Link hienalouca.com

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