“Nigel Farage is like a ‘flipping, slightly pissed-up sort of brother-in-law or something,” according to Charlie Brooker, who’ll be presenting his customary 'Election Wipe' this evening on BBC Two, ahead of tomorrow’s turnout for what is predicted to be the closest election in years.
“He’s like somebody else’s uncle at a wedding that corners you and starts banging on about immigration, but people sort of like him because he seems authentic,” muses Charlie, although he’s keen to stress the programme will be as impartial as possible, “We have to be equally horrible to everyone.”
Nigel Farage, a photographer's gift
Even in this, as in David Cameron’s campaign, Charlie admits that Mr Farage is proving a thorn in the side.
“He’s a bit of a pain in the arse, because we’ve got to be balanced, and he keeps providing all the [material],” he laments. “Like when he sort of turns on the audience, and having a go at HIV sufferers and stuff like that. These things are like open goals really, for a comedy show, but then you’ve got to hunt around for other things that are equally outrageous things other people have done - but they don’t often do them.”
Despite this, Charlie’s spotted a couple of patterns in the campaigning that will no doubt make it to the Wipe final edit.
“David Cameron who’s kind of.. he’s an odd one,” he says. “One thing that we’ve noticed is that he is quite good at slipping away [from TV interviews]. He walks away.
“I think that was probably an attempt to avoid - do you remember that weird clip of (Ed) Miliband a few years ago? Of him repeating the same soundbite again and again and again in a desperate bid to get it on the news. I think Cameron’s tactic is to say what he wants and then f*ck off. So he’s sort of slippery, and a bit weird, and there’s something a bit robotic and odd [about him] and we often have fun saying that he’s some sort of nether beast.”
And in the interests of fairness, what about Miliband? “Inherently quite comic,” is Charlie’s verdict. “Although it’s interesting that the caricature that he has often fulfilled, of being a bit awkward and sort of dweeby, now it seems like the attacks on him... it’s like no-one can quite pin him down, one minute he’s a weakling and a nerd, and the next he’s backstabbing sort of ladykiller. It’s odd, he can’t be all of those things.”
Despite all this material, Charlie Brooker admits it’s been harder than usual to locate the stand-alone, laugh-out-loud, watch-through-fingers, campaign-defining moments of this year’s Election. No Neil Kinnock falling in the sand, no Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy “a bigot”, and even Boris has been successfully kept on a leash.”
“There haven’t been any big banana skins anyone’s slipped on,” agrees Charlie. “At the moment, they’ve been largely kept away from the public. Because usually those moments happen when the public comes up alongside them and everything goes unscripted. You get Prescott punching someone, and that hasn’t happened.” Sigh.
“It was a novelty enough last time in 2010 when suddenly everyone went ‘Ooh, hang on, there’s a third party?’ You know, and you had Clegg Mania which became Tony Blair very quickly. He was like a microwaved Tony Blair, wasn’t he, basically?”
Charlie Brooker's Election Wipe is broadcast tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.