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Play Your Cards Right

25 Feb 2024 5 minute read
Liz Truss, Nigel Farage, Lee Anderson, Bruce Forsyth, Donald Trump and Tom Sellick. Montage by Sarah Morgan Jones

Ben Wildsmith

Did you know that Bruce Forsyth appeared in an episode of Magnum PI? The omnipresent, dodgy-syruped, ‘didn’t she do well’, king of postwar light entertainment apparently had a stint presenting an American gameshow.

Quite how those credentials parlayed into suitability for the Honolulu version of Hetty Wainthrop Investigates is unknown, but there he is, demonstrating his range and versatility by portraying a British gameshow host in a sports jacket.

It’s always jarring when you come across a British celebrity at the heart of US TV culture.

Whether its Christopher Hitchens or Cat Deeley, the UK viewer can see the grasping lust for riches in their eyes as they allow themselves to be denuded of nuance and irony, the better to reach bovine, corndog-dribbling residents of Chickenshit, Idaho.

‘Here’s a message from our sponsors,’ they beam, as the self-deprecating charm that made their names is fed through a commercial meatgrinder, never to return.

James Corden at 2015 PaleyFest by iDominick is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

UK politicians have rarely made the transition, for reasons which should be readily apparent.

‘Mark Drakeford’s World of Cheese’, for instance, never made it past a pilot shown by HBO in the Milwaukee metro area.

Similarly, ‘Point Blanket’, a vengeance thriller starring Clint Eastwood and Andrew RT Davies, remains bogged down in the development process.

Brazen hucksters

Recently, however, we have the merging of light entertainment with politics. GB News and Talk TV have repackaged UK politicians as presenters, teaching them the dark arts of faux-sincerity and authoritative presence required by that discipline.

Resultingly, our most ethically bankrupt, brazen hucksters have emerged from the sludge of UK politics sporting Philip Schofield grins, and Richard Madeley suits.

Equipped with these tools, people who would have previously been mumbling about ‘taking our country back’ to half a dozen inadequates in the upstairs of a pub, are now bouncing fascism off satellites into the homes of thousands of voters.

Mouth-breathing degenerates

Lee Anderson broadcasted on Friday night that ‘Islamists’ have seized ‘control’ of London and its mayor, Sadiq Khan.

He has been suspended from the Conservative Party but may well have calculated that his prospects are better without it. Being fired puts distance between him and a failing Establishment.

We don’t yet know how many mouth-breathing degenerates there are in the UK who are persuaded by this rhetoric. The reflexive response of reasonable people is to dismiss him as a grotesque.

These loss-making channels are being funded for a reason, though, and much as we might smile seraphically through our macchiatos at their antics, we should be vigilant.

The daddy of UK populism showed last night just how far this sort of schtick can take you.

Those of you who remember Nigel Farage for his performance in the car park at Trago Mills in Merthyr, might be surprised to learn that he is now bestriding the US political scene like the offspring of Colossus and Mr. Toad.


Last night, at the horrifyingly influential C-Pac gathering of all that’s successfully repugnant in American politics, Farage gave a lengthy address that sought to position him as the spiritual father of a movement that encompasses Donald Trump, Orban in Hungary, Le Pen in France, Meloni in Italy, and Eamonn Holmes.

He had, America learned, ‘stood alone’ as a defender of the nation state before politics swung in his direction. He was John the Baptist to Trump’s Messiah, the Byker Grove to his Saturday Night Takeaway.

Following populist technique, Farage started with a lengthy exposition about his persecution at the hands of Coutts Bank. ‘It’s the grievance, stupid’, as the political maxim goes.

He knows his place, though. He climaxed his peroration by declaring that the world ‘needs’ a Trump victory in November. His reasoning for this echoed 30p Lee: London has been captured by Islam.

Risible chancers

Earlier in the day, Liz Truss had tried out her Maggie impersonation on the insurrection-monkeys, having been sat next to their chief puppeteer, Steve Bannon.

According to her, it was ‘the deep state’ that had derailed her premiership. Coutts and the bond market are now, we are given to understand, staffed by dangerous socialists.

The media landscape is providing an instantaneous route to global influence for risible chancers who, hitherto, could be dismissed as a sideshow.

They are funded, networked, and coordinated in a way that principled politicians cannot match. The skills they employ are blunt but effective.

A gameshow host as president has bequeathed us a gameshow political world and the prize is beyond imagination.

Flags & Bones by Ben Wildsmith is available to order from Cambria Books

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
1 month ago

You play the hand you are dealt, the voter gave Rishi the bad joker Lee…

Rishi Ji tried to give Lee a 10 grand bonus he thought so much of Lee !

But Lee was pocketing 100 grand from GB and figured by leaving the 10 grand in the pot by quitting as deputy he could put a couple of zeros on that bonus in the new year…

This illustrates just what a piece of dog muck Rishi really is…

Y Cymro
Y Cymro
1 month ago

Westminster/British politics is rotten to its filth core. The likes of fascists Lee Anderson , Suella Braverman and Liz Truss & co are bringing society down to their lowly level whilst spreading hatred and poison while making hundreds of thousands hoodwinking the electorate. We have also Boris Johnson & Nigel Farage stinking the place out with their GB News shows, especially beer swinging fag smoking brown nosing Nigel Farage who is currently in America sucking up to the prig with a wig Donald Judas Trump. After the second world war and the horrors experienced we were supposedly meant to not… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Y Cymro
1 month ago

Is that Beaker at the back in the pic?

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