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‘More Fawlty Towers than Downton Abbey’: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s bid to become a reality TV star
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‘More Fawlty Towers than Downton Abbey’: Jacob Rees-Mogg’s bid to become a reality TV star

One of the most fascinating parts of election night was watching the various ways that outgoing Conservative MPs reacted to the furious bloodbath to which they were subjected. Some, like Penny Mordaunt, made a decent fist of equanimity. Others, like Liz Truss, reacted to their loss like they’d just been clonked over the head with a leg of lamb. And then there was Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Throughout election night, Rees-Mogg adopted a slightly amused distance to the carnage around him, happily doing the media rounds before the votes were in before quoting Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in his concession speech. “From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success,” he said, shortly before warmly shaking the hand of one of his opponents, a man in a baked bean balaclava.

For days, people have wondered exactly what Rees-Mogg meant by “the roses of success.” Was he already in the early stages of plotting his political comeback? Might he jump ship and ride the coattails of Reform back to parliament? Now we know the answer. According to a press release that landed this morning, when Jacob Rees-Mogg referred to “the roses of success,” he was in fact describing his new five-part Discovery+ reality show.

Rees-Mogg with wife Helena and children Mary, Thomas (L) and Peter in Windsor.View image in fullscreen

Long rumoured as a distant possibility, today Discovery+ announced the imminent arrival of a “fly-on-the-wall docu-series”, Meet the Rees-Moggs. Promising to “lift the lid on the man behind the public image,” Meet the Rees-Moggs will be set in the family’s 17th-century Somerset house where Jacob Rees-Mogg lives with his wife and six children, and will follow him from the announcement of the general election to the present moment. In the press release, Rees-Mogg said “Animals, children, an election and a film crew. What could possibly go wrong? This everyday story of Somerset folk is fun to film but may be a bit more Fawlty Towers than Downton Abbey.”

In other words, “from the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success,” was actually code for “Suck it up bitches, I’m the new Joey Essex.” God help us all.

Obviously the biggest error that anyone in my position can make is to predict what a television programme will be like before it has been made, but let’s look at the evidence. The show’s commissioning team have previously been responsible for hits like The Nolans Go Cruising and Jack Osbourne’s Haunted Homecoming, so this won’t be a particularly highbrow affair. The public has just unilaterally rejected the proposition of seeing Jacob Rees-Mogg any more than they absolutely have to, so it won’t be especially well watched. The country is in such a mess that the thought of seeing one of its chief architects lummoxing around like the world’s greyest-skinned Kardashian is genuinely enough to make you feel ill. Usually I’d reserve this sort of thing for internal emails, but please nobody make me actually watch this mess. Not even for money. It’s fine if my kids skip a few meals, honest.

 Rees-Mogg with son Peter.View image in fullscreen

The big question is why Jacob Rees-Mogg has chosen reality television for his next step. There are a couple of fairly clear answers here. The first is that Rees-Mogg has been carefully cultivating a television-friendly caricature of himself for years on shows like Have I Got News For You. The second is that, while most outgoing politicians will try to remain relevant by writing a book, Jacob Rees-Mogg has already done that. But that book was 2019’s The Victorians: Twelve Titans who Forged Britain, which received a blanket savaging by critics on publication. If you’d written a book that prompted AN Wilson to write “the author is worse than a twit,” in his review, chances are you’d probably decide to gun for the Here Comes Honey Boo Boo bucks instead.

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Of course, Rees-Mogg’s biggest crime here is that he was simply first out of the gate. In total, 175 Conservative MPs lost their seats last week, and you just know that their primary mission is now to ruin television as much as they can for the rest of us. I’m a Celebrity is almost guaranteed to be a nightmare this year due to all the aimless, witless former cabinet ministers lining up for a spot. Same goes for Strictly. I need to direct this last bit to any light entertainment producers who might be reading. Our lives are already terrible enough as it is. Please don’t make things worse by booking Grant Shapps for Dancing on Ice.

Source: theguardian.com