A sunny afternoon spent watching Dominic Cummings? Coronavirus has left us with a weird new kind of event TV


It was a gloriously heat Financial institution Vacation Monday and, at 5 minutes to 4pm, the afternoon solar was hitting our roof terrace at full power. It was the right climate for sitting beneath the shade of an umbrella and ingesting a glass of iced tea and studying a e-book. And but, like thousands and thousands throughout the nation, I as a substitute obeyed the siren name of the BBC information notification that pinged up on my telephone – and tuned in to observe a press convention with the federal government’s political advisor Dominic Cummings.

These are unusual days. “Event TV” was Strictly Come Dancing, or the Line of Responsibility finale, or Eurovision. These have been the reveals that may preserve me on the couch on a Saturday night or dominate my WhatsApp teams or encourage me to decorate up in kitsch fancy costume. On the political aspect, “event TV” got here within the form of election evening protection or the occasional Prime Ministerial resignation. (Keep in mind that different “DC”, David Cameron, singing himself a cheerful little tune on his method again in to Quantity Ten? “Do do do do do. Proper!”)

However now, we get a new instalment of “event TV” each single day. Fortunate us! The Coronavirus Each day Replace frequently pulls in additional viewers than a primetime drama, with scientists and advisors turning into family names. There have been some significantly standout one-off specials within the collection, like the printed in March the place Prime Minister Boris Johnson lastly imposed a lockdown and instructed us his easy instruction was that we should always all keep house (trace trace, Dominic Cummings).

Boris Johnson's Sunday 10 May televised message (Credit: Getty Images)

So at quick discover on a Financial institution Vacation weekend, right here all of us have been, ready for back-room political operator and so-called mastermind Cummings to elucidate himself. Twitter was going nuts. Authorities ministers have been making weird statements. The general public temper was livid, and the Each day Mail and the Guardian have been in uncommon settlement. Cummings had thus far been evasive, petulant and unrepentant. What was going to occur? Would he resign, or proceed to insist he’d executed nothing flawed? This was actually going to be unmissable TV.

So we sat and waited. And waited. And waited. Chief political correspondent Vicki Younger did a valiant job of filling the air with phrases, in an impromptu audition for Simply A Minute. BBC information host Ben Brown saved being instructed that the press convention was a couple of minutes away from beginning, besides – as he identified with mounting irritation – they’d been saying that for the final half hour.

At house, I too was irritated. And I used to be in good firm: from my Fb chats and WhatsApp teams, it was clear that everybody had sacrificed their time within the solar to observe this broadcast, and thus far Cummings was nowhere to be seen. However not less than the “good firm” meant it was a kind of communal TV expertise as we swapped data and jokes and ideas on what was to return.

After which lastly it started! Together with his shirt half-untucked, Cummings ambled into the Rose Backyard at Downing Avenue and seated himself behind a trestle desk like a man promoting raffle tickets at a faculty fête; he learn out his assertion and allowed himself to be requested some questions, and I gained’t go into an excessive amount of element about that besides to say that it was automotive crash TV – and never the kind of automotive crash that would have resulted from somebody driving 40 minutes to Barnard Citadel to… take a look at out that they have been secure to drive? Yeah. It was, as Ben Brown referred to as it, an “extraordinary bit of political theatre”.

At its peak, the printed attracted a TV viewers of 5.58 million on an exceptionally sunny Monday afternoon, with many extra having watched stay on iPlayer (as I did). It certainly lit up WhatsApp teams and dominated dinnertime conversations throughout the nation, and it’ll actually go down as one of essentially the most memorable programmes to air on this whole lockdown interval. Now that’s “event TV” within the time of the coronavirus…

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