Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution
On the night of his 1994 Labour leadership summit at Granita with Tony Blair, Gordon Brown rushed back to his team HQ and tucked hungrily into steak and chips.
Not only were both men too busy talking to eat much, but the food on that swanky Islington menu had been far from Brown’s usual fare. ‘What exactly is polenta?’ he grumbled to aide Ed Balls.
It’s a revealing anecdote, both personally and politically. But you won’t have heard it on Blair & Brown: The New Labour Revolution (BBC2).
Both Blair and Brown contribute detailed accounts to this five-part history though, as the Queen might say, recollections may vary
This was the agreement, Brown says: ‘He would be leader and serve till near the end of a second term. It was simple and straightforward and I am surprised it is misunderstood.’
The Granita meeting, crucial though many believe it to be, wasn’t even mentioned. Instead, the story is told in Ed’s memoir Appetite, serialised earlier this year in the Mail’s Weekend Magazine.
Both Blair and Brown contribute detailed accounts to this five-part history though, as the Queen might say, recollections may vary.
This was the agreement, Brown says: ‘He would be leader and serve till near the end of a second term.
‘It was simple and straightforward and I am surprised it is misunderstood.’
In another soundbite, he growled, ‘It could have been me.’
Blair, who clung on like a limpet and fought three elections as Prime Minister, to the increasing fury of his Chancellor, says vaguely: ‘Yes, it was always envisaged that he would succeed me.’
The Machiavellian Peter Mandelson, on the other hand, suggests they were a triumvirate, ‘a trio of musketeers’.
Brown is the most competitive in his memories. ‘I met Bill Clinton some years before, actually before Tony did,’ he brags.
One or two of the talking heads managed a flamboyant turn of phrase. Former shadow minister Douglas Alexander described Tony and Gordon as ‘the Lennon and McCartney of Labour’.
But mostly this chronology, covering the 11 years following Michael Foot’s defeat by Mrs Thatcher in 1983, was dry and tight-mouthed.
For light entertainment we had to grab at snippets of film, such as the shot of Blair in the 1980s wearing stonewashed jeans, legs akimbo and locks flowing, like U.S. rockers Bon Jovi.
A photo from his schooldays showed Blair topless, as though he was posing for Cosmopolitan magazine. He was, sighed his Fettes College headmaster, ‘the sort of boy you were always struggling with to have his hair cut properly’.
Jeremy Vine was revelling in the mischief of reviving Eggheads (C5), after BBC2 inexplicably decided to cancel the successful teatime quiz
The network specialises in poaching unwanted shows. It’s currently having huge success with All Creatures Great And Small, once a BBC1 mainstay
This series must have been many months in the making. Why the BBC chose the first night of the Tory Conference to broadcast it is anybody’s guess — though it’s hard not to see it as a piece of deliberate mischief.
Jeremy Vine was revelling in the mischief of reviving Eggheads (C5), after BBC2 inexplicably decided to cancel the successful teatime quiz.
It now includes questions about C5 stars — such as: ‘Who is the shepherdess in Our Yorkshire Farm?’
One contestant failed to pick ‘Amanda Owen’ from the multiple choice answers and said: ‘Alex Polizzi.’ She’s the Hotel Inspector, of course . . . but it seems not everyone watches C5.
The network specialises in poaching unwanted shows. It’s currently having huge success with All Creatures Great And Small, once a BBC1 mainstay.
Ads mean the show is trimmed, with only four rounds (and four ‘Eggs’, or professional quizzers).
The tone is unchanged, though, and the midway commercial gave Egg Kevin Ashman a chance to set viewers a question: ‘What invention was patented in 1830 by Mr Budding?’
The answer: the lawnmower.
Jeremy wondered aloud whether it was petrol driven.
Apparently he thinks the first internal combustion engine was designed to cut grass. Good job he’s only asking the questions, and not answering them.