Questionable Time: Jerry Springer, Star Spangled Dimbleby and the return of Shami Chakrabarti

Jerry, my two-timin' brother stole the leadership of the Labour Party from me, but now I'm back and I'm hotter than ever!

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The Independent Online

Good morning Lemmings and just who the devil are these people, swanning around with their fancy accents and elevated levels of dental hygiene? Ah, I see, they appear to be Americans which would sort of make sense seeing as they're having an election next week. Quite what this has to do with the good people of Britain, I don't know, and I must confess, I'm a little upset the wild rumours of Donald Trump appearing on the show have come to nothing. That said, both my computer and I are counting our blessings now that we don't have to cut out Trump's hair in Photoshop. I mean c'mon, have you seen that thing? Anyway, on with the show.

I can still hear the longing cries of New Labour romantics ringing in my ears...

So here he is, the Miliband You Could Have Won, the King Across the Sea, the slightly better looking brother who still clearly has the capacity to make Blairites weak at the knees. And how has his self-imposed exile been treating him? Rather well, it seems. You see, the deal-breaker for me when Miliband D. was on the front line was the look he used to pull when someone caught him out. His face would momentarily harden, brows bearing down into a frown and teeth clenched as if to say 'Well done buddy, you just made the list'. He'd stop short of pulling out a note pad marked 'For Future Smiting' but you could tell that he was deadly serious and did not like being made a monkey of. Luckily for him, a couple of years of bimbling around the edges of politics have mellowed him. What we saw last night was a man who can still get a message across but doesn't seem as consumed by the game as he once was.

My only real disappointment – apart from his getting away  lightly over the matter of why Labour traded principles for mischief on the EU vote – was that Question Time missed a trick this week. They had David Miliband, they had Jerry Springer, all they needed to do was wind up Dave about how his brother stitched him up, before bringing on Ed from backstage and leaving the two of them to duke it out.

Speaking of Jerry Springer...

Fun fact: Back in 1999 I ended up in the audience of The Jerry Springer Show whilst visiting Chicago. It was all about cheating transsexuals and although I have to admit that I wasn't really convinced by the main event, since they all seemed to get on rather well when they cut for breaks, I was totally sold on Springer himself. He just seemed to balance it all so well, letting you know that it was all bollocks, whilst signing you up at the same time. That was 13 years ago but although he's not quite as quick on his feet (not to mention his rather unsettling assertions that he will be dead in 20 years), he's still very much got it. Alright, so the going was pretty easy for him, what with him being Obama Cheerleader-in-Chief in front of a crowd with a ravenous appetite for the hopey-changey stuff but even when he clearly has no idea what he's talking about that infectious manner will carry you along. It's almost enough to make you forgive him for being ultimately responsible for The Jeremy Kyle Show.

I got distracted by Kwasi's voice...

Alright, I'll level with you; Kwasi Kwarteng is not going to get a fair hearing, because I noticed something that totally threw me early on: his voice is exactly the same as Boris Johnson's would be if you played it back slowly on an old tape deck or slipped him half a Valium. Seriously, the tone, the cadence, the accent, it's all totally identical except that it's two or three tones lower and a little slower. Well, I'm afraid the voice did for me and whenever he opened his mouth I was unable to focus on anything else. I did catch the fact that he isn't a fan of deficits. That said, Kwarteng is canny enough to play the I Am But A Lowly Backbencher card when needs be, so he didn't do too badly.

I miss hating early/mid-2000's Republicans...

It used to be so simple: Bush was mad, everything was wrong and the cast of characters sent out by the US to serve notice on the rest of the world were so ludicrously unlikable that life was relatively easy to fathom. This doesn't appear to be the case with Colleen Graffy as while I didn't really agree with anything she said, at least she didn't back it up with laser-guided munitions and teary-eyed renditions of 'The Star Spangled Banner'.

I can sleep easy tonight knowing that Shami Chakrabarti hasn't come to a sticky end...

There was a time when I was writing about Shami every other week. In fact, I was just waiting for the day when she'd fill the role of all five panelists simultaneously. It seems those days are gone. Maybe it's because everyone's got their knickers in a twist about the economy. Maybe it's because we've conveniently forgotten that we're very much still at war where we probably shouldn't be. Whatever, Shami just seemed to recede into the background and I was getting a little worried. Did the Feds finally catch up with her? Was she wrongly detained by a Truancy Officer? I didn't know and the suspense was killing me. Happily, I can now go to bed unmolested by concerns, as it appears that she's a) still very much alive and b) doing what she always did which is getting very passionate about stuff she cares about. And that's just fine with me.

The scores...

Miliband: 7/10 (Appears more) Chilled

Kwarteng: 5/10 Filled (an hour adequately)

Springer: 7/10 Thrilled

Graffy: 5/10 Willed (Romney to win)

Chakrabarti: 6/10 (Hasn't been) Killed

The Crowd: 6/10 (Would be able to breath underwater if they were) Gilled?


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