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Monday, August 10, 2020
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Welcome to MP-TV

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Parliament reopens next Tuesday, April 21, to allow MPs to discuss the coronavirus crisis via video conferencing. But will they get in a tangle over the televisual technology? Let’s fast-forward and find out . . .

GOOD morning and welcome to the BBC Parliament channel, where today we’re covering the historic digital debate in the House of Commons. As you can see, there are no MPs in the chamber, but they’ve left their television sets – more than 600 of them – on the benches with live video feeds and webcam links so they can join in the proceedings remotely. And now the session is being opened by the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, whose face we can see on that big wall-mounted monitor . . .

LH: ‘Order! I’m addressing the House via a TV link connected to my Definitive Technology bipolar BP9080X forward-focused tower speaker array with intelligent bass control and immersive sound dispersion, which you can see perched on the Speaker’s chair.’

John McDonnell: ‘Point of order, Mr Speaker!’

LH: ‘Yes, Mr McDonnell. I can see you there on your 32in Toshiba 32LL3A63DB LED Full HD 1080p Smart TV. Rather a nice feature-filled, middle-range set, that. What’s your point of order?’

JM: ‘Well, Mr Speaker, when you just spoke, the overall tonal balance of your delivery through the BP9080X system was superb, giving true multi-dimensional sound. But I wondered if you could slightly adjust your high-performance, integrated, powered subwoofer?’

LH: ‘I’ll adjust your subwoofer for you if you don’t stop making stupid interruptions, Mr McDonnell! Right, let’s hear from the Prime Minister – that’s him over there on that somewhat showy Samsung Q90R QLED 65in flat-screen TV.’

Boris Johnson: ‘Thank you, Mr Speaker. The House will agree that the coronavirus crisis has brought into focus the resilience and resourcefulness of the British people, in much the same way that my Q90R’s deeper blacks and captivating colour, precise backlight technology and superb dynamic range provide viewers with pin-sharp, pixel-perfect picture quality . . . ’

Sir Keir Starmer: ‘Point of order, Mr Speaker!’

LH: ‘Yes, Sir Keir? We can see you clearly on your 55in Sony Bravia KD55AG8 OLED HDR 4K Ultra HD Smart Android TV.’

KS: ‘Thank you, Mr Speaker. The Prime Minister correctly asserts that the coronavirus crisis has brought out the best in the British people. But it ill behoves him to make such a statement unless he first sheds some light on the errors made by the Government. And I mean a bright light, such as that which emanates from the organic LED in my Sony Bravia, where each of its eight million pixels is self-illuminating and every speck of light controls its own luminescence for true depth and colour gradation, ensuring a blur-free image that looks just as stunning from any angle.’

BJ: ‘I would find the Leader of the Opposition’s criticism more convincing if we could actually see a picture of him on his TV set. It’s obvious that the image on the screen before the House right now is a re-run of the Max Headroom show from the 1980s, featuring a humourless, jabbering, computer-generated cyborg. You can’t tell them apart.’

KS: ‘I can assure the House that this is really me and I regret the remarks from such a pale imitation of a Prime Minister. However, his pallor is due not to his recent illness, but to the limited range of the visual cortex in his Samsung TV, unlike my Sony Bravia’s Triluminous technology, which expands the colour range beyond conventional LED displays for a richer, more lustrous image.’

LH: ‘Let’s hear from the back benches. I call Jeremy Corbyn, whose flickering image we can see over there on his 1976 Yoonost 401 Russian-built solid-state black and white TV.’

JC: ‘Thank you Mr Speaker for the opportunity to address this . . . 25th plenary session of the Supreme Soviet . . . the coronavirus crisis is an . . . imperialist-capitalist conspiracy against the toiling masses . . . and will be resolved only with . . . the triumph of Marxist-Leninism. We must thank key workers for . . . record wheat yields in the Ukraine under the five-year plan . . . 

LH: ‘Mr Corbyn, you’re not making sense.’ (Unidentified heckler: ‘No change there, then!’)

JC: ‘I’m sorry, Mr Speaker, that’s not me making those Red remarks. I seem to be getting some vocal interference. My TV set was built at a workers’ co-operative in Murmansk, using the latest cutting-edge valves and cathode ray tubes, but it still seems to be tuned to an old Moscow frequency. I’ll just see if . . .’

LH: ‘Oh dear. The screen’s gone blank and there’s smoke coming from it. Until we get Mr Corbyn back, I’ll call Jacob Rees-Mogg over there on his 1953 GEC BT5246 14in television receiver in walnut and Bakelite casing.’

JRM: ‘Thank you, Mr Speaker. I join the House in congratulating the British people on standing up to coronavirus and can only compare their fortitude to that displayed by contestants on Crackerjack, which I first watched on this fine British-built television set in 1974. I also deplore the attacks by the Opposition with the same vehemence I felt after I unthinkingly exchanged my Parker Ambassador sterling silver fountain pen for a Spacehopper on Multi-Coloured Swap Shop in 1977 . . . ’

LH: ‘Thank you, Mr Rees-Mogg, we must move on. I’ll now call Rebecca Long Bailey, who we can see over there on her rather smart Alba 22in Full HD 1080p LED TV/DVD Pink Combi.’

RLB: ‘Thank you Mr Speaker. As the House can see, I am standing here amid the derelict warehouses and rusting cranes of Salford docks, a working-class area ravaged by Thatcher in the Eighties and now further threatened by Tory neglect over coronavirus . . . ’

Priti Patel: ‘Point of order, Mr Speaker! She isn’t in Salford docks. She’s using one of those virtual background images, but it hasn’t worked properly. She’s actually sitting in the lounge of her swish suburban home. Look, just behind that old steam locomotive on the quayside, you can see her hostess trolley and coffee table with a copy of Country Life.’

LH: ‘Your transmission is terminated, Ms Long Bailey. I now call Emily Thornberry, whose image we can see emerging on the screen of that Panasonic Omnivison TV and VCR combo, inlaid into a Waring & Gillow teak cabinet with matching candelabra and taking up six places along the Opposition benches.’

Several MPs: ‘Cor blimey, look at old Emily! How did she get into that leotard?’

ET: ‘My apologies, Mr Speaker. One of my old VHS Green Goddess fitness tapes seems to have been left in the VCR player and has somehow switched itself on. I assure you that shapely siren on the screen is not me.’

LH: ‘We’d never have guessed. I’ll leave you to sort that out while I call the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak – who we can just about make out on that battered old Tesco “own brand” Technika 19in set held together by gaffer tape.’

RS: ‘Thank you, Mr Speaker. As members will be aware, the coronavirus crisis bailout is crippling the economy. So I’ve set an example by buying this secondhand TV for £5 on eBay. It’s stuck on one channel, the picture’s fuzzy, there’s no way of controlling it and it’s making confusing noises.’

LH: ‘Thank you Mr Sunak. That sounds like a perfect summary of the current policy in the pandemic. Debate over. Session adjourned. Now, where are all those remotes so I can switch off 600 tellies?’

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Weaver Sheridan
Weaver Sheridan is an amateur local historian and wannabe best-selling novelist.

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