Voices: Holly and Phil jumped the queue to see the Queen? Off with their heads

Early morning television has changed so much since I was a kid. Back in the 90s, you’d switch on your TV over breakfast to see two sarcastic Irish puppets making fun of a member of Boyzone, everybody would have a good laugh, and then you’d change the channel over to cartoons and not think about them for the rest of the day.

Nowadays, it’s a totally different animal. Morning TV is a hotbed of never-ending controversy, as hosts find new and innovative ways to infuriate the nation between cooking segments. I haven’t woken up before 12pm since I started freelancing, but I still feel like I know Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield intimately since they’re always in the paper over some scandal or another.

A couple of weeks ago it was because they tried to gamify the cost of living crisis, letting viewers spin a wheel for a chance to have their energy bills covered for a set number of months. In 2019, Schofield harangued Jeremy Corbyn over Labour antisemitism claims, while appearing to let Boris Johnson off the hook over his own party’s controversies. They’ve had bondage segments, they’ve clashed over #MeToo (“for all the good that #MeToo has done, it has been widely used to name, with no proof, with no concrete evidence,” Schofield said in 2017) and they’ve accidentally accused celebrities of paedophilia. Cat Deeley would never.

Their latest scandal might just eclipse all the others, though. As thousands queued for hours to see our late Queen lying in state at Westminster Hall, Holly and Phil sauntered in like they owned the place to film a segment for This Morning. Disgusting.

Look, it’s one thing to disrespect the Queen at her own wake. But skipping a 14-hour queue is another thing altogether, even if Holly did address the backlash by saying “it may have looked like something else” – but that we should all know “that we would never jump a queue”. This is their Meatloaf moment. This country has a lot of stupid traditions and customs that don’t make a lot of sense, but there’s one thing we can all agree on regardless of our background or denomination: you don’t do that.

Tilda Swinton didn’t jump the queue – and she has an Oscar. David Beckham didn’t jump the queue, and he’s married to a Spice Girl (also Wikipedia tells me he’s a… footballer? Am I saying that right?). Even Sharon Osbourne didn’t jump the queue, and she’s basically American! Imagine your queue etiquette being worse than an American’s! There’s no coming back from that!

I don’t care who you are, you wait in the cold and make small talk with the person in front of you until you make it to the front of the queue or you die of exposure: whichever comes first. It’s the one thing this country gets consistently right. We buggered up Brexit and the pandemic, and we keep electing the worst people in the world, but I’ll be damned if we don’t form an orderly line. Without that we’re nothing. We’re less than nothing. We may as well be France.

Now I know that some of you are sat there thinking: “But Ryan, queuing for half a day in order to film a short segment for a morning television show is wildly impractical. The purpose of the media is to expose as wide an audience as possible to things that they wouldn’t be able to experience under normal circumstances, so in many ways Phil and Holly were performing a vital service and should have been accommodated accordingly. While the queue was a nice cultural phenomenon, travelling to London is an impossibility for 90 per cent of the country, and the segment they filmed for This Morning may have provided those who were unable to attend with a sense of community and catharsis during a time of national mourning. Also, the voice you’ve adopted for the purposes of writing this article has become grating and is quickly overstaying its welcome.” To those of you I say: shut up, Communist.

To keep up to speed with all the latest opinions and comment sign up to our free weekly Voices Dispatches newsletter by clicking here

It is my sincere hope that when we finally get around to making a movie about the queue, the villains are based on Holly and Phil. Here’s my pitch: Hugh Grant plays a royalist whose boss won’t give him time off to see the Queen lying in state. He quits his job and joins the queue, where he has a meet-cute with a woman played by an actress three decades younger than him, and becomes best friends with a quirky German tourist played by Rhys Ifans. Before he can muster the courage to ask the woman on a date, two evil TV presenters jump the queue, causing many of those waiting to question why they should even have to queue at all. As more and more queuers begin pushing and jostling for position, it’s up to Hugh Grant to give a stammering, rain-soaked speech about how good things come to those who wait.

I’m sure that people will forget about Holly and Phil’s latest faux pax next week, when they debut their latest faux pax. Maybe Holly will accidentally call King Charles “Prince Charles.” Maybe they’ll interview a flat Earther while Phil nods along and says “wow, I’ve never thought of it like that before.” Maybe they’ll invent a game where diabetics have to compete for insulin.

But I won’t forget. To the rest of the world, Phil and Holly will one day return to their normal positions in society, as a slightly less-good Richard and Judy. But to me, they’ll always be queue jumpers.