Piers Morgan meets Nigel Farage? ‘Oh God, it’s too much’

Patrick Freyne: Zippy flaps his muppety head in rage when George brings up UKIP’s racist and homophobic views


“Ah, how delightful, Zippy and George from Rainbow are back!” I say, as I turn on the telly to see a pink sycophantic hippo-thing coaxing gibberish from the wide zip-like mouth of a yellow, goggle-eyed wonk.

Sadly, I am mistaken. It is, in fact, Piers Morgan’s Life Stories (Tuesday, TV3) a programme in which Morgan, a fully engorged Trump apologist, interviews professional human impersonator and donkeyman of the apocalypse Nigel Farage.

This is part of a long-running series of celebrity interviews sometimes billed as “Piers Morgan Meets . . .”, a show that must have been commissioned in the desperate hope that the ellipses would be followed by the words “the jaws of a yawning rubbish-compactor” or, more simply, “a bear”.

And so, in my disappointment, I watch as this damned duo converse surrounded by a studio-full of hooting goons, which is how Morgan likes to have all his conversations, while sitting before a terrifyingly huge picture of Farage’s face, which is how Farage likes to have all pictures of his face. Just a guess, but I assume the room is also filled with the odour of their own flatulence, though television makers have not yet developed the technology to allow me to know that for sure.

Oh God. It’s too much for me. I’m going to have to occasionally call them Zippy and George just to make sure I can complete this review without getting sick in my mouth more than I have to.

And so we meet Zippy/Farage’s parents, who are, apparently, Babs Windsor from the Carry On films and the Major from Fawlty Towers. They are proud of their freakish spawn. We meet his friends – politically incorrect snooker-jester Jim Davidson and an assortment of deflating red balloons in suits. We see footage of him addressing the European parliament with all the dignity of a teenage sociopath. “You all laughed at me,” he gobble-gobbles. “You’re not laughing now.”

Tattooed on her arm

At one point Morgan replaces the image of Farage’s face with the image of a woman who has had Farage’s face tattooed on her arm. “At least it was just her forearm,” says Farage and everyone laughs except for those of us with souls.

Here are some things that have happened to Farage/Zippy in his lifetime: He sold silver to his classmates in public school (for he is a man of the people). His teachers accused him of fascism (again: man of the people). He had a testicle removed after a cancer diagnosis. He was once hit by a Volkswagen Beetle. The UKIP banner he affixed to the back of a little aeroplane got tangled up in that aeroplane causing it to crash and him to break loads of his bones. If Zippy was a superstitious man/zip-mouthed-muppet, he might think his existence was some sort of affront to the gods. But he has never known doubt.

Then George/Morgan asks Zippy/Farage: “How difficult is it to be married to Nigel Farage?” Everything makes sense for a brief moment. Clearly he has married himself in some sort of bizarre onanistic ritual of self-love that was probably previously forbidden by the EU. That’s what the independence movement was about all along.

But no, George is asking about Zippy’s actual wife, a real life German woman at whom Zippy chants “two World Wars and one World Cup” during football matches (seriously), and who has, over the years, put up with reported infidelities and more disturbingly, I’m sure, the sheer existence of Nigel Farage as a marital reality. (Well, until recently. In a recent statement, Kirsten Farage said they “have lived separate lives for some years”.)

How did their romance happen? This is a love poem in two parts.

“You stumbled hungover into a trading room and there was your wife,” says George.

“She was a bilingual bund broker,” explains Zippy.

It’s like a crap version of Don’t You Want Me Baby by The Human League.

Then George asks Zippy questions about a tabloid kiss-and-tell involving “a Latvian TV reporter” and some ice cubes. “Would you categorise your behaviour over the years as being a naughty boy when it comes to women?” asks George, licking his hippo lips salaciously.

Sex pest

Zippy just laughs. In the age of Trump, being anything short of an actual sex pest looks statesmanlike. So he doesn’t mind this line of questioning half as much as he minds when George/Morgan starts reciting the racist and homophobic things that members of his political party have said over years.

Having UKIPs own words repeated back to him is an example of the kind of lefty media bias that Zippy/Farage regularly fulminates against, so he flaps his muppety head in rage. This is a mistake, because George/Morgan becomes visibly aroused when people are angry with him and he gets a little half smile on his pink hippo face. Oh dear! Hopefully Bungle will intervene. Bungle is Trump, I’ve just realised.

Okay, now I’m nauseous. I’ve got to stop maligning the real Zippy and George and Bungle like this. It’s ruining a lot of my childhood memories.

Anyway, the programme ends with Farage exulting in having all of his eurosceptical dreams come true with Brexit. “You must be the smuggest man in Brussels, ” says Morgan.

“Only because you’re never in Brussels, Piers,” I yell through my liberal tears.

Then Piers suggests Farage might be prime minister some day and “jokingly” asks for a job. At this point, both Farage and Morgan’s man-suits burst with smugness and their spores of self-regard disperse across the land, contaminating the crops and blotting out the sun. In the ensuing darkness, I begin penning an apology to Zippy and George and the creators of Rainbow.

At an obscure hour

Also in the darkness, and broadcast as a beacon of hope from a forgotten corner of Montrose, is The Works Presents . . . (Tuesday, RTÉ 1) in which John Kelly interviews artists of note, until the nefarious RTÉ board find out what he’s doing and banish the programme to an even more obscure hour.

This week, after eluding the villainous TV executives once more, Kelly gets the charismatic and socially conscious Liam Cunningham, star of Game of Thrones and Hunger, to ruminate over his career and to make a case for activism and creativity, and the dignity of labour and general decency. It’s great, and just what I need to hear after watching Zippy and George divide the world between them.

“There isn’t a lot of evil people out there but there’s a huge amount of complacent people,” says Cunningham, clearly part of the resistance. “If you can kick them in the arse and get them going that would be a good thing.”

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