Did we like it?
The Old Man of the C-List gets caught up in gusts of his own sycophantic verbal flatulence.
What was good about it?
• In his brief starring slot, Kevin Spacey was charming and funny with his impression of Peter O’Toole being a highlight.
• One of Tony Blair’s lower incisors was all brown and yucky, and among the pristine ivory about it looked like one of those ochre crisps you used to find at the bottom of packets where a factory worker had scratched their arse and deposited the contents in the swirling vat of frying potatoes.
• Strip away the politics and separate him, like isolating a schoolboy led astray by his overbearing, bullying classmate, from George W Bush, and Tony Blair is a personable, likeable chap who can effectively spin out a story whether it’s recounting how his father-in-law (the irascible Tony Booth) asked if he could light up a joint at the Blairs’ first marital home or the atrocious band he sang with at university.
• He’s been made slightly stiffer and more circumspect with the weight of his office, but you would still trust him as a friend, though not necessarily as a politician, more than David Cameron, whose eyes blink in strict blocks of six, six and six, or Menzies Campbell, who would be too busy cleaning the blood of a “close personal friend” off his knife to pay you much courtesy.
What was bad about it?
• Parky’s attitude towards first guest Kevin Spacey was initially the typical British toadying to anyone who has set foot in the hallowed halls of thespian Valhalla reserved for Oscar winners. “Please, Mr Spacey, wipe your feet on me, your rough welcome mat.”
• As Parky entered, the feigned raised eyebrows of surprise at the applause that greeted him. And he mouthed his thank-yous to the audience like a golfer acknowledging the gallery’s applause after an easy putt.
• The sadness that a fantastic, daring actor such as Kevin Spacey seems overjoyed to be trapped in the Superman ‘franchise’ from now until the end of time.
• Parky mumbling to Spacey that “we might talk about Superman later”. They didn’t.
• Andrea Boccelli and Christina Aguilera, plus their absurdly ostentatious retinue of a classical orchestra, were the usual vacuous pap cobbled together with the passion of a factory robot bolting together bespoke jeeps for financial brokers. In Britain, singing in a foreign language does not automatically make it ‘cultured’.
• The notorious proclamation by Blair that God will judge him for his actions over Iraq that simultaneously created inadvertent allusions to every single despot who has committed mass murder from the ancient Egyptians through the Crusades and the Balkan atrocities, but also dismisses the rational appraisals of his conduct from his human contemporaries.
• There was also a significant shift in Blair’s behaviour whenever Parky’s questions ambled like an old lady pushing a trolley from the light hearted to the verge of politics. As soon as ‘war’ was mentioned, Blair’s thumb and forefinger embraced like teenagers clumsily enjoying their first snog, and then began to prance about as though a conductor’s baton.
• Of course, Parky let him off the hook. In fact he did worse than that; he even helped Blair out by following up the Iraq question by claiming that the PM’s job “is an impossible one”. Don’t worry, Parky, the knighthood’s now in the post or maybe you can pick it up next time you’re round at No 10 watching the football “on mute”.
• And when the subject of George W Bush was broached with the same timidity as a doctor encroaching on parents’ grief to enquire about organ donation, Blair started performing thin-air karate chops with his right hand as if to guillotine any personal guilt about their association.
• And what did master inquisitor Parky follow up that question with? Why it was to see if Blair could remember any hideously over-rehearsed “embarrassing gaffs”