Why That Photo Of Boris Johnson Without A Mask Next To David Attenborough Isn't The Whole Picture

The prime minister received some scathing criticism for not wearing a mask next to the 95-year-old national treasure on Monday.
Boris Johnson was seen sleeping without a mask next to Sir David Attenborough
Boris Johnson was seen sleeping without a mask next to Sir David Attenborough
Twitter @doctor_oxford

Boris Johnson horrified people when photos emerged on Monday of the prime minister not wearing a face mask while sat next to Sir David Attenborough – but there’s actually more to this image than meets the eye.

Johnson has stirred up controversy by not wearing a face covering in various crowded settings in recent months, including in the Commons and in small rooms with his ministers. He has repeatedly refused to make masks mandatory as well, despite climbing Covid figures.

Fury towards the prime minister then seemed to peak when photographs emerged of him asleep while sat next to a masked-up Attenborough on the first day of the UN’s climate summit, COP26.

The 95-year-old environmentalist is widely considered a national treasure and one of the country’s leading voices when it comes to tackling climate change.

It was definitely not a good look for the PM

Palliative care doctor Rachel Clarke tweeted: “When you’re sitting next to 95-year-old Sir David Attenborough and you *still* can’t be arsed to wear a mask. Or even stay awake.”

Labour MP David Lammy also wrote: “Time to wake up Boris Johnson the world is burning.”

But this one snap does not tell the whole picture

The Daily Mirror’s Dan Bloom pointed out that while it’s “not great to be unmasked” next to the renowned environmentalist, it looks like “the masking of Boris Johnson and David Attenborough chopped and changed a bit in different photos from the same run”.

Johnson can be seen snoozing without a mask in some photographs, but awake and masked up next to Attenborough in other images.

Attenborough was also seen without a mask in some photographs and instead has his hand over his mouth.

In one snap, neither man is wearing a mask as they applaud a particular speaker on stage.

In fact, the only figure in the series who appears to have kept his face covering on throughout is UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

No.10 also dismissed the claims that Johnson was snoozing as “total nonsense”, pointing out that his eyes were open in other images.

While the clip of US president Joe Biden nodding off made the rounds on Monday, video footage of Johnson with his eyes closed for more than just a moment has yet to emerge.


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