My secret invitation from Michael Gove

23 April 2022

9:00 AM

23 April 2022

9:00 AM

As you may have heard (if you haven’t, I’m losing my narcissistically self-promotional touch) my new TV show Piers Morgan Uncensored launches soon and will air daily in the UK, America and Australia, thus fulfilling my long-held ambition to become a global irritant. The title provokes mirth among those who feel I’ve never shown any sign of being censored. But my enforced removal from Good Morning Britain last year for refusing to apologise for an honest opinion that Meghan Markle is to veracity what Vladimir Putin is to humanity was cowardly corporate censorship, and I’m confident that if Princess Pinocchio writes to my new boss Rupert Murdoch demanding my head on a plate – as she did to ITV’s CEO Dame Carolyn McCall – she won’t be quite so successful.

My brilliant team are working feverishly to land big-name guests (the first show’s an eye-popping corker…) and getting some amusing responses. Fiery filmmaker Oliver Stone emailed back: ‘Piers, I look forward to your new show and congratulate you on the way you keep managing to make a better bed for yourself each time you get fired. Best, Oliver.’

Newspaper adverts for PMU have included snarling images of me crunching the Houses of Parliament like King Kong, suggesting the honourable members will be recoiling in terror from my comeback. In fact, the opposite may be true. Several months ago, Michael Gove and Oliver Dowden – both of whom I’ve aggressively harangued on air – invited me to a secret senior Tory away-day conference to berate them all about where they’re going wrong. ‘Just be your usual charming self, Piers,’ urged Gove: ‘as blunt and rude as you like.’ ‘Admit it, Michael,’ I replied. ‘You guys just miss me shouting at you.’ There was no denial. Sadly I couldn’t go, but if any ministers are craving a savage personal critique, the Housing Secretary has my number.

Someone who urgently needs one is Rishi Sunak. Until this month, I’d have bet on him being the next PM. He seemed an oasis of calm professional intelligence amid a miserably mediocre cabinet. But you never know the real mettle of a politician until they get roasted by scandal or crisis, and Sunak’s melted under fire over his family’s finances and recent budget. A keen cricket lover, he told me at Lord’s last summer that he’s a ‘firmly off-the-front-foot’ batsman. But the way he’s been over-defensively prodding, nibbling, ducking and playing-and-missing as the bouncers fly in would put even England’s woeful top order to shame. If you still want the top job, Chancellor – and I predict there will soon be a vacancy as partygate and surging inflation combine to bury beleaguered Boris – then stop bleating about how unfair all the perfectly legitimate media scrutiny is and get back on that firm front foot. You can’t help your charming wife being stinking rich, but you can help being weak and whiny.

One cricketer always on the front foot, on and off the pitch, was my late great mate Shane Warne. Shortly before he died, we had an animated text debate about the relative merits of yeast spreads after I posted an Instagram photo of a pot of Vegemite during a trip to Australia with the caption: ‘Sorry Marmite, please forgive my infidelity.’

‘It’s better and you know it!’ Shane messaged. ‘Vegemite doesn’t stick to your teeth like Marmite.’ Poignantly, his last meal was Vegemite on toast.

Shane was a fantastically entertaining character with a life mantra I’ve adopted for my new show. ‘Sometimes,’ he said, ‘just say “get stuffed” to the fun police.’

Last summer I caught the delta variant at the Euros final. (When I told my wife Celia that I was going to Wembley with 80,000 sweating, shrieking fans because ‘Football’s coming home!’ she replied with remarkable prescience: ‘I suspect coronavirus is coming home instead.’) Afterwards, I developed very dreary long Covid for eight months. This manifested itself in no taste or smell, disconcerting brain fog and constant energy-ravaging fatigue.

But then a strange thing happened: I embarked on a crazy six-week global PMU promotional tour which took me from London to New York, LA, Florida, Honolulu, Sydney, Dubai, London, New York, LA, Florida, London – and rather than it finishing me off, it finished off the long Covid and I feel back to normal. My doctors are as bemused as I’m relieved.

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Piers Morgan Uncensored launches on Monday 25 April on TalkTV.

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