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Could Boris Johnson decide next Doctor Who star?

With Boris Johnson looking to approve the next political editor at the BBC, comedian MITCH BENN looks at other decisions Number 10 might want to influence.

With Jodie Whittaker set to leave next year, TV’s most high-profile perennial vacancy will soon be up for grabs once more. Photograph: BBC.

It was announced a while ago that Laura Kuenssberg, the entirely impartial political editor of the impartial BBC News would be leaving the corporation for pastures new. The increasingly overlapping worlds of politics and journalism have since been abuzz with speculation, both as to the precise nature and location of the new pastures in question, and also as to who might succeed Ms. Kuenssberg in her current position and, moreover, how this appointment would be made.

In a not-rare-enough instance of Saying The Quiet Part Out Loud, The Sunday Times opined that “whoever succeeds her will not do so on their abilities alone; they will also have to be palatable to No.10”. Wow.

Well, leaving aside the near impossibility of anyone being as palatable to No.10 as the departing Ms. Kuenssberg must have been, it is almost satisfying finally to have it confirmed that our current administration demands and indeed EXPECTS to be given approval over who may or may not be allowed to question them.

With this in mind, here are some more job appointments which could, in future, be subject to approval by the prime minister…

If it has indeed been decided that candidates for leading positions in BBC News must be ‘palatable’ to Downing Street, why stop with the news department? What about the rest of the BBC?

With Jodie Whittaker set to leave next year, TV’s most high-profile perennial vacancy will soon be up for grabs once more. And in our exciting new post-Brexit, post-fact, post-everything country, filling such an important job can’t be left to know-it-all so-called “professional” TV producers and casting directors. The only democratic way to select our new favourite Time Lord will, of course be to hold a referendum. Let the people decide!

Then, when it becomes clear that the referendum has produced no clear result in favour of anyone (with every actor in the country having voted for him or herself, of course), the prime minister can wade in and decide for all of us who we meant to vote for. Like he did with Brexit, and that’s going swimmingly.

I imagine that the PM will favour a return to the “classic” Doctors of the old series: male, middle-aged, affectedly eccentric with an overbearing manner and bizarrely anachronistic dress sense. One name springs to mind immediately, or rather three names. It’s a perfect fit for Jacob Rees-Mogg, and it’ll keep him too busy to be hatching any leadership bids in the near future.

It’s not just Doctor Who needing a new star; the other most frequently recast role in showbiz is currently unoccupied.

And much as real secret agents operate under licence from Her Majesty’s government, it’s about time PRETEND secret agents were subject to approval from Whitehall as well.

So whom might Boris Johnson install as the new James Bond?

Let’s think… privately educated, supremely overconfident, used to the finer things in life, can hold his drink, travels around the world causing chaos and destruction for which he is never in any way held accountable and can’t stay interested in the same woman for more than about two hours.
Oh, and he’s blond these days.

It’s a puzzler, isn’t it? I’m sure he’ll think of someone.

Now, far be it from me or anyone here at New European towers to speculate on just when THIS gig might be about to come free, but let’s face it, it’s going to happen sooner or later, isn’t it?

On the one hand, this job seems pretty much stitched up already; the line of succession is clear and well-established. Ah, but the word Succession means something else entirely in the year 2021, doesn’t it?

What if Number 10 decided that it would be altogether more entertaining for the nation (and, crucially, more distracting) if the job of king or queen were to be ‘thrown open’ to the rest of the Royal Family, with each member having to curry favour with the Queen and hatch foul plots to undermine each other?

Who wouldn’t want to see that? Who wouldn’t be glued to the TV news each evening to see the latest developments in the baroque House of Windsor soap opera being relayed by the (government-approved) Royal correspondent?

There’s little chance of the prime minister himself seeking the crown (too much hard work) although there is talk that his wife Carrie might soon be referred to as the First Lady (despite the fact she’s at least the fifth or sixth).

I have to please my readers
And my audience as well
Now I need government approval
For all the jokes I tell.
From now on, my barbs and zingers
Must all be cleared, it’s true
Or the government will remove me
And bring in someone new.

See inside the 4 November: The war against JK Rowling edition

An burqa-clad Afghan woman walks through a market in Kabul. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images.

Helena Kennedy: Europe faces Schindler’s List moment

Afghan female judges and lawyers left behind in Kabul and beyond now have targets on their backs. BARONESS HELENA KENNEDY makes an impassioned plea for intervention.

Untitled (Album
Page XIV) by Barbara
Honywood, who
made her art during
seances. Photo:©Bethlem
Museum of the Mind

Not Without My Ghosts: The art exhibition that you shouldn’t ghost

At its 19th century peak, spiritualism had eight million followers in Europe and the USA. The movement might not have stood the test of time, but the art it produced will.