I was tasked with announcing one of the most iconic media signings in recent history: Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has joined GB News. It’s happened. We got the Big Dog. He’s all ours.
But beyond the naked victory of getting one over on your media competitors and signing a big name to bolster the ranks, there are actually quite a lot of complexities to the Boris hire.
Firstly, how on earth our Editorial Director Mick Booker managed to keep this a secret from 99% of the staff until the moment Boris revealed himself on our screens is beyond me.
He pulled me into a booth at 7pm the previous day, showed me the video clip of Boris announcing his arrival, swore me to secrecy and told me I couldn’t even tell my fiancée. No promotion. No teasing of something massive. Just announce it at 3pm. Make sure we get it over the line. Job done.
I always have the GB News viewer email inbox in front of me when I’m on air so I can get immediate audience reaction to any topic I cover. I’d say four fifths of the viewer reaction was incredibly positive, one fifth was negative. That’s not a bad return considering what a controversial character Boris is.
My view on the Boris Johnson signing is this: He is a huge political figure that will go down in history for a variety of different reasons, he has made news headlines his entire political life, he has a journalistic background, he was, and remains, incredibly popular with people in the Red Wall - which is a very GB News-friendly area.
During events like General Election night, having Boris on the panel will be box office. He is a net benefit to the channel.
However, I am acutely aware that he divides opinion. Many people think he is a liar. A nice older couple on the Bakerloo line of the London Underground told me in no uncertain terms how worried they were about Boris joining GB News. They said they felt let down by him as Prime Minister and that he couldn’t be trusted.
Boris Johnson is joining the GB News familyGB News
Many people have not forgiven him for curtailing civil liberties with lockdowns during the Coronavirus pandemic. Ultimately, Boris was the man in charge and whilst he was under an immense amount of pressure from the ridiculous legacy media lockdown fanatics, and some dodgy advisers, the buck does stop with him.
Plenty of Conservative voters have not forgiven him for, as they see it, wasting a huge majority at the last General Election. Others think he's a bit too focussed on the green agenda.
I wouldn't necessarily disagree with any of those things but I've got to be honest with you, I just really like the guy.
I like his chaotic energy. I like the fact that he has something that you just can’t teach…star quality.
He’s got a pull factor. He’s got an X factor. Yes, he’s got flaws, but he’s just got something about him.
He’s got a type of magnetism that even his biggest detractors, if they’re being honest with themselves, will acknowledge.
More than anything I like how positive he is about Britain. Boris Johnson genuinely loves this country and wholeheartedly believes in it. That's how I feel and I'm sick of people talking us down.
In addition, Boris Johnson is good telly, and we're in the business of making good telly, so the signing makes sense.
GB News is the channel that Got Boris Done.
Ultimately, it’s now up to Boris to put a shift in and deliver the goods. If he realises what a tremendous opportunity he’s got here and throws himself into it, he’ll be a roaring success.