All hail the TV reporters who keep us informed on Brexit
PUBLISHED: 18:19 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 18:19 03 April 2019
If you’re sick of Brexit, think of the TV reporters who have to cover it. David Clayton salutes them for the great job they’re doing
I admire the woman at the centre of the Brexit shenanigans. She’s there in Downing Street, Westminster and Brussels, and politicians hang on her every word. She seems astonishingly resilient and never lost for a view on the current situation. I guess the country are looking to her for a sense of the way forward. No, not Theresa May – Laura Kuenssberg!
The BBC’s political editor is getting a serious amount of screen time. Not only has she been popping up in a whole range of programmes at every twist and turn of Brexit, it now appears from the hour long, behind-the-scenes documentary the other night, that she’s been cutting and scripting that too. I’ve curtailed my usual relaxation in front of the TV, which is generally a diet of Salvage Hunters and Wheeler Dealers, and started consuming hours of political analysis and debate. Goodness, I’ve even been transfixed by BBC Parliament’s live debates from the Commons. Pure theatre, if you ask me. If, as is widely speculated, The Speaker John Bercow is to stand down later this year, he’ll not be short of offers for panto this Christmas!
On top of that I’ve been listening to the Brexitcast podcast – and if Laura Kuenssberg hadn’t impressed me enough, she was on that too. In a marvel of broadcasting technology, she was in a taxi heading to her East London home, at 11.30pm, connected up with three others elsewhere, chatting away. Clearly a more robust 4G signal in the capital than Norfolk, then! She dipped out when the taxi pulled up to her front door. I hope someone had her slippers and a glass of dry white ready. She deserved it.
In a way, I’ve felt sorry for my media colleagues. Brexit has been, and still is, a huge story but it hasn’t half gone on a bit. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it has, and then some. Even if you don’t agree with them, there are passionately held and plausible arguments from whichever direction you approach it. What once seemed like a simple binary choice has become impenetrably confounding. Never has the adage “the devil is in the detail” been more apt.
So, interviewers and journalists have continued to try and throw light rather than heat on the subject, with varying degrees of success. As well as the impressive Ms Kuenssberg, step forward the very likeable and capable Chris Mason, one of the BBC’s political correspondents. In Brexit terms this is an age ago, but last November, when he was doing what we call a two-way with BBC Breakfast he tried to answer the not unreasonable question of what was likely to happen next. In a portent of things to come, he replied, with a degree of exasperation: “I haven’t the foggiest!” Then, in a link to a previous item on the programme, he suggested Mr Blobby’s view might be just as good. From a man born in the Yorkshire Dales, his down-to-earth, honest reaction rather set the scene for every correspondent since. Then there’s Katya Adler, the BBC’s Europe Editor. Its one thing knowing your subject but it’s another putting it across with personality and clarity. I spend a good part of my life working with presenters and reporters helping them with their performance. I just wish I could take Ms Adler around with me because that’s the way to do it. She used to be a correspondent in another troubled region, the Middle East. She might be contemplating going back there for a rest when all this Brexit stuff is over – if it ever is!
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard, “this is unprecedented,” and “political chaos.” Worryingly, I’m becoming immune to such admonishments. I’ll give it to Andrew Marr staring down the camera lens, waving his finger at me. “This is what living through history feels like.”