I Watched Jeremy Corbyn on 'The One Show' So You Didn't Have To
Here's what I learned.
Screen grab: The One Show
The One Show is something political journalists would only ever watch during an election, because it's the only time politicians ever get to grace the sofa of this fluffy, inoffensive magazine show.
For them, this rare foray into apolitical territory is a chance to show their nice guy credentials. It's a time for questions about why our future overlords like their allotments, or who does the washing up, rather than being forced into the nitty gritty of nuclear disarmament. On Tuesday the guest was Corbyn; on Monday, it had been John Barrowman.
Theresa May's appearance a couple of weeks ago gave her a chance to present herself as utterly normal, but she came across, in the words of one Twitter user, as a weird robot that has water damage. Corbyn, on the other hand, came across as all too human – a kindly but dull great uncle.
In a world where you can watch pretty much whatever you want at a moment's notice, the show started with a question about who trims the hedge outside Corbyn's house, which led to an anecdote about how his front garden used to be made of concrete. It was "the Devil's own job to break up the concrete and turn it into a garden", said Jeremy. It's like the concrete is Tory Britain and Jeremy is a righteous pneumatic drill coming to tear it all down. The garden is our glorious future under reconstituted social democracy.
The interview continued in this riveting fashion. We were presented with photos of a young Jeremy, which led to some primo banter about the way you get little flecks and spots on old photos. We also learned that as a young boy Jez looks like a child from the Village of the Damned striking a Mussolini pose. Next, Corbyn bored on about his time volunteering for the VSO in Jamaica and talked about the Duke of Edinburgh award.
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The sofa chat is broken up with short cutaway films, presented to us as if Brasseye never happened. The first was about a credit union in Leith, Edinburgh – set up by the Reverend Ian May – that allows people to get loans without being extorted. "Already, the signs are looking good," said the voiceover, over the image of a man putting up... a sign!
The now traditional, single low-key-actually-insightful question came after this segment. Alex Jones used a tenuous point about credit unions being a "lifestyle change" to ask, "What's the biggest thing you've changed your mind on?"
"I think well done Reverend Ian, actually," said JC. "I support our local co-op credit union because it's a way of helping people get loans who wouldn't otherwise get them." He then pontificated on how, meeting "an enormous variety of people", some form views and sometimes become quite judgemental.
Other people, he said, "know something you don't know. I think you've always got to be prepared to listen to others. I find all this fascinating and I store all this stuff away." He stopped short of saying a stranger… is just a friend you haven't met yet.
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There was a segment about a tunnel. Then one about a rock balancing competition.
It ended with a weird section on decorative manhole covers, as Corbyn is a fan of those. Each "manhole cover" had a question for Jeremy under it. It was the sort of thing that would have been rejected from an ideas meeting for the first series of Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge for being too weird. The memes came instantly, but the most important takeaway from that is that much of the audience presumably don't really know what a meme is. It's bizarre to think that this is how some people experience their politics, but no stranger than the thought that some people actually stay up to watch This Week with Andrew Neil.
Overall, the picture was of a normal-ish guy with some eccentricities, which is better than when nobody believed Theresa May's anecdote about how her shoes got someone into politics.
With the election of Donald Trump, America crowned a clown-President, a leader for the entertainment age. In Britain, we're not quite there yet.