First the cookie monster, then a dog with a degree, now Paxman versus Brand on beards, revolution and a hatred of the Tory Party. How has Newsnight, that ageing, late night, sleep-inducer suddenly become the most watchable programme on British TV?
Wednesday’s offering continued the show’s good form, with producer Ian Katz pitting Paxo against the garrulous, unpredictable yet always-brilliant Russell Brand. And the pair played their roles to perfection.
On the back of Brand’s forthcoming guest editorship of the New Statesman, Paxo charged in: “Who are you to edit a political magazine?”
“A man who was asked by an attractive woman,” he said. Following a rant drawing in “current paradigms”, “voting practises” and “political apathy,” Brand barked across the room “grow your beard”. “You are a very trivial man,” countered Paxo, both comfortable in their cross-cultural badinage.
Brand has found a more serious edge of late, interspersing tales of shagging a not taking drugs with pleas for a fairer world, a greener world and one in which Associated Newspapers is mashed to a pulp.
“What will your revolution look like,” growled Paxo from behind said beard.
“I’ll tell you what it won’t be like,” said Brand in a moment of clarity, “a huge disparity between rich and poor, where 300 Americans have the same amount of wealth as the 85 million poorest Americans, where there is an exploited and underserved underclass that are being continually ignored and where welfare is slashed while Cameron and Osborne go to court to defend the rights of bankers to continue to receive their bonuses. This has to be addressed.”
Earlier, Paxman had attempted to find common ground by telling his opponent he didn’t “necessarily disagree” with him. “Then why do I feel so cross with you?” replied Brand.
What wonderful nonsense.