Mark Andrews on Saturday: Essential shops, Euro folly, and a special guest for Ali G

The latest musings from Mark Andrews.

Ali G with the Beckhams
Ali G with the Beckhams

According to the Prime Ministers 'roadmap' – which as far as I can see has nothing to do with travel directions, but is what normal people call a 'plan' – non-essential shops must remain closed until April.

Fair enough. But perhaps it is also time to reconsider what constitutes an essential shop. Because when I went into town the clothes shops were shut, while the shop selling cream cakes and puddings was doing a roaring trade. Which is odd given that the Government forever tells us to cut back on cake. And would probably take a dim view of folk walking around the high street in the buff.

At the same time, the Prime Minister conceded that lifting restrictions would lead to some upturn in cases, and inevitably more deaths. The vaccination process could never be perfect, he said.

And tragic though these cases may be, most of us are sensible enough to know we can't stay in lockdown forever. Stopping people from getting Covid is a bit like stopping people from being killed in road accidents. You can reduce the numbers, but without extreme curbs on our liberties, it is impossible to eradicate entirely.

But given that the Government accepts there will still be a risk in the summer, it seems quite incredible that culture secretary Oliver Dowden reportedly offered to host the entire European football championships in this country. According to reports, Mr Dowden told Uefa that Britain's vaccination programme was going so well that the UK would have fans back in the grounds long before mainland Europe.

So let's get this straight. We spend billions of pounds of borrowed money developing and administering a vaccine to put us at the forefront of fighting this virus before our neighbours. And then we invite thousands of fans from countries where the virus could still be rampant to drink in our pubs before piling into football grounds. What could possibly go wrong?

Should England host the European Football Championship?

Having had another week to digest Megan and Harry Markle's plan to 'tell all' to Oprah Winfrey, I think they should aim a little higher. Why not follow in the footsteps of David and Victoria Beckham, who they are clearly emulating, and do an interview with Ali G?

Ali famously asked the Beckhams, deadpan: "So there is some people who suddenly get loads of money who become very tasteless. How has you two managed to avoid that?"

You can't help but think the Sussexes would gain far more respect by putting themselves at the mercy of Sacha Baron Cohen rather than whining to a fawning Oprah.

Television writer Jed Mercurio, known these days as the writer of Line of Duty and Bodyguard, says the Midlands is under-represented on the small screen.

He adds that, as an aspiring young writer, he always wanted to see the Midlands get more exposure on television.

Hmmm. Before Line of Duty, Mercurio's main claim to fame was The Grimleys, which represented the Midlands all right. It portrayed the Black Country as populated entirely by losers and layabouts with ridiculous accents and less intelligence than the bricks propping up the old banger in the front garden.

And if that is the type of representation he wants to give us, then please don't bother.

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