MANDRAKE: Boris Johnson's 'daughter' speaks out
- Credit: PA
TIM WALKER on an unusual theatrical production, with an intriguing premise
The premise is intriguing: an unacknowledged daughter of Boris Johnson is on a quest to find out what he's really like.
Charlotte Evans, the journalist and theatre performer, had initially been commissioned by the BBC to make My Dad Boris, which comprised serious interviews with a variety of people who knew and worked with him before he became prime minister.
The BBC does not currently have an air date for Evans's audio documentary, but, undeterred, she has now turned it into fiction for a stage show, which will run for one night only at the Pleasance Theatre in London on May 31.
"There was an element of Citizen Kane and Rosebud in the investigation I did for the BBC and I really felt I came to know Boris," says Evans. "I guess this is a way of getting him out of my system. I never sought to judge him. Only to give people who knew him an opportunity to talk about him."
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On the Pleasance website, the show is explained like this: "I just need you all to know that my Dad is the most important man in the country (allegedly). In this performance, I will show you all of the things that nobody knew about my dad. Just because he seems to be an imperfect, lying, corrupt man who managed to climb the greasy pole purely because of wealth and family connections... It doesn't mean he IS... does it?"
Evans says she was proud of the investigation that she did for the BBC into Johnson and hopes that it might yet be aired. "Ultimately I accept it has to be their decision," she says.
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I worked with Johnson for 12 years at the Telegraph and was among the large number of people Evans interviewed on Zoom during the first lockdown. It took several hours and the BBC paid me for my time.
It was good to see John Bercow, the former speaker of the House of Commons, on Question Time last week, when he demanded a public inquiry into the government's handling of the pandemic and said that he always saw it as his role to fight for parliamentary sovereignty.
The next day, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Bercow's successor as speaker, posted a photograph of himself on Twitter beside Poppy, an explosives detection dog, who, he said, "played a vital role in keeping us safe in parliament".
There were 245 responses to the tweet, almost all of them hostile to the future Lord Hoyle. "That dog looks like he could actually defend parliamentary democracy," wrote Jacqueline Murphy. "Could you please let him take over from you?"
Conor Burns, the Tory MP for Bournemouth West, is saying on social media that he has "zero tolerance of unprovoked unpleasantness or abuse".
Burns can clearly dish it out, but he can't take it. Last year he was suspended from the House of Commons for seven days after the parliamentary standards watchdog found he had used his position as an MP to "intimidate" and make "veiled threats" against a man involved in a financial dispute with his father.
Laurence Fox's political views are costing him dearly. The former Lewis actor fared so badly in the London mayoral election – garnering less than 2% of the vote – that he forfeited his £10,000 deposit.
As to where he gets all his anger from, it's possible his father James Fox, the actor perhaps best known for playing Lord Darlington in The Remains of the Day, was an influence.
In 2013, he told Country Life: "I feel quite aggressive at the moment towards bien pensant thinking." Sadiq Khan, who was re-elected as the capital's mayor, secured 40% of the first preference votes and 55% in the run-off. That gives him, respectively, the approval of 16% and 23% percent of the electorate, a turnout that is not unusual in local and mayoral elections and confers precious little democratic legitimacy.
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