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Exterminate! Exterminate!

Yesterday – partly by happen-chance, partly by design – I watched the beginning of The Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 from 9.00am. I then deliberately turned to a different channel, any channel (it doesn’t matter which one it was then, or now) at roughly 9.35am, about two minutes into Mr Marr’s interview with the Prime Minister, which he had trailed at the beginning of the programme.

As an aside, I should here mention an interesting departure … in the ‘news headlines’ that Mr Marr always switches to after doing his introductory piece to camera but before going to his traditional review (with guest pundits) of the newspapers on his sofa –  the (on this occasion male) newsreader mentioned that Mrs May has said something-or-another “… in an interview on this programme …” (but at this stage, of course, the viewers had not yet seen it).

The reason for this post is that the reason I switched channels at 9.35am yesterday was because of the interview with Mrs May – or rather the way she was performing in it.

I simply couldn’t take any more of it.

[Another notable aspect of Mr Marr’s show yesterday’s was that the Prime Minister (any Prime Minister) is normally – amongst A-Lister guests – the A-Lister above all others, and the ‘Most Important Guest Interview’ is always played out from about 9.40am until about 9.55pm … after which there’s a musical performance, yesterday’s being by the once-fashionable, but-no-longer-so, Scottish pop group Franz Ferdinand who regaled viewers with their latest unmemorable ditty.

How do I know this? Because Andrew Marr himself said they’d be in the ‘end slot’ during his introductory piece when opening the programme.

My point here is that I suspect it is quite possible that Andrew Marr, or indeed his BBC superiors, had decided in advance that, as the Prime Minister would be such a turn-off for viewers as an interviewee, she didn’t warrant being given the ‘Main Guest’ slot.]

To cut to the headline: in her interview with Andrew Marr yesterday, Mrs May was in full-on ‘Maybot’ mode.

You know how these things go.

Inevitably you tend to form an instantly favourable (or unfavourable) view of some politicians – and indeed some entertainers, now I think of it – the first time you see them on camera and then, for good or ill, that remains your view of them forever.

With others, your general view of them either comes to you gradually over a course of time that could be weeks, months, years or decades – or else, possibly strikes you like a bolt of lightning over one performance on particular policy issue of importance, or one memorable interview, or one crisis as it unfolds.

But whether your ‘overview’ of them is formed instantly – or much later – once, you have reached it, the effect is similar.

Whatever they do or say afterwards, you view it through the prism of the view you have formed. It’s a bit like learning a new word via serendipity – once you’ve ‘clocked’ it (and its meaning), you suddenly seem to come across it all the time. That’s probably not because suddenly people are using it more often – more likely it’s because (before you ‘registered’ that word and its meaning for the first time) you never noticed its existence.

I wasn’t the first person to describe Mrs May as a robotic performer as a politician – or indeed to refer to her as ‘The Maybot’. But right from the moment I first set eyes upon her there was something – if not inhuman, certainly unworldly – about her delivery when speaking in public or being interviewed. She came across – formally and informally – as if she was ‘painting by numbers’. By no stretch of anybody’s imagination was she a natural. In short she was a manufactured political candidate, then MP and then minister. And probably person as well.

She may have had political aspirations, ambitions even (somewhere I read that whilst at Oxford, or shortly thereafter, in any unguarded moment she confessed to an acquaintance that one day she’d like to be Prime Minister) – all of them human goals, it must be said.

But she wasn’t the kind of girl – or bloke, if you see what I mean – that any ordinary citizen I’ve ever met would readily agree to go down to their local pub with for a drink. Or even that you or I would have a girlie chat with about clothes, parties or children. Or even go to with a problem – unless, that is, there was nobody else to go to (if you see what I mean).

And so now – as of about two years ago – she became ‘The Maybot’. And will always be remembered as such.

Hence my ‘departure’ from her interview yesterday.

Well, at least there were some people around who saw it through to the end.

Here’s a link  to Zoe Williams’ piece on Mrs May’s performance yesterday – which almost channeled my own thinking, to be honest – as appears on the website today of – THE GUARDIAN

And here’s one to Quentin Lett’s equivalent review which appears today on the normally Tory-friendly website of the – DAILY MAIL





About Lavinia Thompson

A university lecturer for many years, both at home and abroad, Lavinia Thompson retired in 2008 and has since taken up freelance journalism. She is currently studying for a distant learning degree in geo-political science and lives in Norwich with her partner. More Posts