Comedian Charlie Brooker has used satire to mock the government’s initial response to the coronavirus.
Brooker’s new Antiviralwipe show took a sideways look at life under the lockdown, dissecting Boris Johnson’s handling of epidemic, as well as how the news reported the outbreak.
Turning his attention to one of the first press conferences which Boris Johnson held, where the PM said it was fine to shake hands with people while the outbreak was in its infancy, Brooker takes aim at the advice in a comedic tirade.
Viewers can hear Brooker ridiculing a reporter who asks whether shaking hands was allowed.
‘Where’s the confusion? Obviously everyone should avoid doing that,’ he shouts.
‘Well, Victoria,’ Johnson replies, ‘I can tell you that I am shaking hands continuously. I was at a hospital the other night where I think there were a few coronavirus patients and I shook hands with everybody.’
A visibly confused Brooker tries to rationalise the guidance: ‘Oh, right, so actually it’s fine to go to a hospital full or coronavirus patients and shake hands witht absolutely everybody, is that right?’
Following more footage of a befuddled Johnson deferring official guidance to his scientific advisors who tell people to was their hands while looking complete dumbfounded by the prime minister’s comments, Brooker says: ‘Ok, wash your hands while you sing happy birthday twice…before you shake hands and not after. Got it.’
Brooker then shows a montage of the prime minister shaking hands with sports stars, television presenters such as Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, and members of the public following the press conference.
The comedian also mocked health secretary Matt Hancock – who he described as ‘your sister’s first boyfriend with a car’.
In one scene, Brooker watches Hancock say that the health risk to the public ‘remains low’ while BBC correspondent Hugh Pym recounts that health officials thought the virus cases were ‘in their dozens’.
Celebrating the good news, Brooker jokes he plans to get back to his ‘day job’ of licking supermarket toilet door handles from Wuhan, a recurring theme throughout the programme
Twitter users have praised the show’s take on the crisis, with one saying ‘he’s summped up Johnson’s government perfectly’.
Nick Crossland wrote: ‘Almost worth putting up with the whole pandemic/lockdown thing to have the joy that was #AntiviralWipe.’
Piers Morgan commented: ‘This show was bitingly, savagely hilarious, though my laughter was constantly tempered by the knowledge Brooker was also ruthlessly exposing the govt’s shocking complacency and incompetence from the start of this crisis. ‘
Andrew Cooke tweeted: ‘Characteristically great stuff from Charlie Brooker. How can anybody take Johnson seriously after being lampooned with his own words by Charlie. All that, Philomena Cunk and Konnie Huq.’