|Katya meeting her Tuscan "childhood sweetheart" (a dead ringer for Si King from 'The Hairy Bikers')|
Having read so many appreciative comments from (usually) strong critics of the BBC's pro-EU bias about last night's edition of This World, 'After Brexit: The Battle for Europe', I had to watch it - and I was very glad I did. I'll join them in congratulating Katya Adler on a fine, fair piece of reporting....
The essential message of the programme, as I saw it, is that the EU is in very deep trouble and might be close to unravelling - so close that it might actually unravel even before we leave.
The damaging effects of the euro, the European project's failure to make life better for many people in countries like Italy, Greece, France (etc), the growing inter-EU tensions, the out-of-touch Guy Verhofstadt types running the club, the swelling disillusionment of the general public, the consequent growth of 'populist' parties in every EU country (except Cyprus, apparently) - all were covered.
There were interviews with the leaders of Italy's Five Star Movement, the Hungarian government. the French National Front and Alternative for Germany, plus with leading pro-EU figures like Guy Verhofstadt and Martin Schulz. And, of course, Yanis Varoufakis.
Among the many striking scenes was one where Katya was trying to find Guy Verhofstadt in the European Parliament building in Brussels. She was looking for Room looking for 5.5 C011 and got lost on Floor 5. A passing lady told her to take the lift and go up one floor. "But that's floor 6, right?" asked a puzzled Katya. No, look for "button 5.5" in the lift, replied the lady. And, lo and beyond, an incredulous Katya duly found "button 5.5" that would take her to the floor above Floor 5 - namely Floor 5.5. "If you want to get an idea of how Brussels works, try spending a few hours in here", she said. "I still can't quite get over it that".
|Another hairy Italian who wanted a kiss from Katya|
Another striking scene come where Katya tried (successfully) to get an interview with Beppe Grillo. "I've got no voice. I'm being consumed by passion", he told her. "I'm a comedian. You have to understand that my brain doesn't work like a politician's brain. I think about something, then the next day I say something else. It's a very beautiful word, 'populism'. I'm proud to be a populist. We need to say NO! Say NO! There's a part of society in Italy and the world which has nothing. We are already changing it. This is what the establishment is scared of! Of joy, of humour, of irony...Now kiss me...Kiss me. I can tell you can't resist. Kiss me." And she did! (Maybe David Davis should have tried that line on Diane Abbott?)