The Londoner: For Emily Maitlis, there's more than meets the side-eye

Emily Maitlis became a national treasure last week after BBC cameras captured her exasperated side-eye during a Brexit interview with a Labour shadow minister — the clip went viral.

But what has been hailed as an “epic” moment that “captured the mood of the nation” turns out to have been a mere technical glitch.

The moment of “TV gold” occurred during a Newsnight panel on Brexit, when Labour’s Barry Gardiner struggled to explain what his party’s manifesto position on Brexit would be in a future general election. “People are literally pulling their hair out,” the exasperated Newsnight presenter told him. She then appeared to roll her eyes. But it wasn’t Gardiner who caused the reaction. “The truth is that when you do live from College Green the monitors are f****d,” a Newsnight source tells The Londoner. “The one Emily needed was showing BBC World News, not BBC2,” the source explains.

“She needed to look [to] the camera, to work out what was actually showing on the TV. So it wasn’t side-eye, so much as a presenter needing to look at the one monitor that worked, which happened to be under the one camera we had.” Maitlis didn’t comment on the eye-roll but tellingly liked a tweet by former Newsnight colleague Chris Cook.

“This is not full Maitlis side-eye... When Maitlis goes full side-eye, you will know it. The seas will boil. The land will shake. And the person standing before her will wither into dust.”

The ensuing interest could not have hurt her profile. It was announced yesterday that Maitlis is to be Newsnight’s new lead presenter. Existing host Kirsty Wark is to take on an “enhanced role”, joined by new recruit Emma Barnett.

Marred by politics

Andrew Marr, who has a sideline as an artist, says “making pictures is a spiritual release and escape from the world of politics”, but he’s finding that the news creeps into his art.

Writing in New Statesman, he says his latest paintings “are of acrobats and clowns, vainly struggling to keep their balance.

“But as the pictures have developed, they seem to be also about politics in general and Brexit in particular. Even in the depths of the studio, and thinking about nothing more than oil paint, the blare of the world intrudes.” You can take the man out of politics...


New play Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough, coming to the Park Theatre in April, focuses on a 2015 election battle between “David Carter and Ned Contraband”. Playwright Ben Alderton says he shared the script with his government sources: “What I thought would be dismissed as a farcical and far-fetched satire of debauchery was, I was told, uncannily and uncomfortably close to the truth.”


Screenwriter Eric Roth reveals the details of a Forrest Gump sequel that never saw the light of day. “I had him as a ballroom dancer,” Roth says, “and eventually at a charity thing he danced with Princess Diana.”

Glasto founder joins Rush for sculpture show

Sculpture show attendees: Clara Paget, Vivienne Westwood & Michael Eavis (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Michael Eavis, the farmer and co-creator of Glastonbury Festival, last night opened Stories From the Wasteland, an exhibition of mechanical sculptures by artist Joe Rush at Vinegar Yard. Dame Vivienne Westwood, the veteran fashion designer, and Clara Paget, the model and St Trinian’s actor, were also in attendance. Rush first befriended Eavis after he converted a truck into a giant skull and drove it to the festival’s main stage in 1985. His last commission at Glastonbury was in 2017, when he created a drive-in cinema from 55 customised cars.

Meanwhile, Will Young, the singer and co-host of hit podcast Homo Sapiens, was at the launch of a new issue of Hunger magazine at the Metropolis stripclub in Cambridge Heath.And over on Regent Street, Mary Charteris, Dylan Weller and Molly Moorish celebrated the opening of Italian brand PINKO’s new flagship store.


Volte-face: Boris Johnson (David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson who once proposed fox hunting should be permitted in London, has performed a volte-face of late, dating keen environmentalist Carrie Symonds and writing columns backing conservation efforts. So will he rethink the £16,000 donation from hedge-fund manager Johan Christofferson, who was once the master of a fox hunt on the Isle of Wight?


The Londoner hears that a painting was removed from Rory Stewart’s office last year because the prisons minister got so “overexcited” that he “fell through it”. Today the MoJ strongly confirmed that “there was an accident”.


We asked yesterday whether Nick Boles was unique in keeping the Tory whip despite leaving his local party. A reader points out Lord Carrington, former Foreign Secretary and Tory chair, never actually joined the party.

Another royal delivery at St.Mary's

Royal delivery: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (Karwai Tang/WireImage)

The Londoner understands that the Duchess of Sussex will give birth next month at the private Lindo Wing at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.

There had been speculation that she and Prince Harry, right, were contemplating a home birth, or a hospital closer to their cottage in Berkshire.

But we are told that they have settled on the Lindo after all, where both the Duchess of Cambridge and Princess Diana had their children. Its staff are, therefore, familiar with important protocols and security requirements.

“Having weighed up the options, and in acknowledgement of its place in royal tradition, they consider it the superior choice”, the source says.

Quote of the day

'I didn't even know I had this much patience'

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, surprises himself after two years of Brexit negotiations