LBC has clarified what happened on air after Boris Johnson made a hand gesture that sparked online speculation while he fielded calls from the public with host Nick Ferrari.
The radio show, which is also filmed, shows the prime minister slicing his finger across his neck with a look of deep irritation as he struggles with a question on his party’s social care policy, prompting some to ask whether he was trying to get Ferrari to move the topic on.
Soon after that, the host said: “Let’s move to other matters.”
But later in the show, Johnson insisted there was a good explanation for the signal and Ferrari has since tweeted an explanation.
Since the show went off air, Johnson’s inability to answer the question on social care became a top item on Sky News.
To clarify the PM's gesture this morning on LBC, this is sign language between me and my producer to signify he needs to stay quiet in my ear. It's been in common use for over 10 years. End of. NF— Nick Ferrari (@NickFerrariLBC) November 29, 2019
Later in the show, Johnson and Ferrari said that the gesture stemmed from a technical issue Ferrari was having with his headphones, and Johnson was suggesting he turn them off.
Boris Johnson spotted the footage being played back off-screen, and explained: “That was only because I was imitating you [Ferrari]”.
Ferrari agreed, saying: “I know, because someone was talking to me so loudly,” and pointed to his headphones.
“We now have throat-gate,” he said, as the pair laughed at the gaffe.
Twitter users spotting the gesture anddeveloped theories of their own.
Twitter account Parody Boris Johnson, who shared the now-viral clip, said: “Oops! I forgot I was being filmed when I gave my old mate Nick Ferrari the secret signal to change the subject.”
The Independent’s Jon Stone said: “It’s often said the Tories play politics on Easy Mode but this is if anything playing on Cheat Mode.”
While Guardian feature writer Simon Hattenstone said: “So this is Boris Johnson’s idea of accountability when being grilled on LBC and asked a question on costing social care that he ain’t got a clue how to answer.
“He can’t retain anything – not even the fact that he is being filmed.”
Writer Emma Kennedy said: “I mean. It’s always nice being interviewed by your pals, isn’t it?”
Quite a few commentators likened the change in his face to an iconic moment at the end of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Writer Aaron Gillies said: “He looks exactly like Bilbo when he sees that Frodo has the ring.”