OPINION - Jacob Rees-Mogg doesn't deserve a second chance as a reality TV star

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the party had to get behind the leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)
Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg said the party had to get behind the leader (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Archive)

Among the more peculiar things to have happened since last week’s election was the announcement that Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg is filming a reality show. Meet the Rees-Moggs, which may or may not be in black and white, will be one of those fly-on-the-wall jobs, a docu-series that the PR puff says will “lift the lid on the man behind the public image”. The five-part show is expected later this year on Discovery+, though presumably the Moggs themselves will get their copy on CineFilm.

It’s been dubbed by some as an exercise in “Kardashian-style” telly — cue Twitter wags wondering which show will feature the bigger arse — though personally I think the vampiric Rees-Mogg has more in common with the Osbournes’ undead paterfamilias (Rees-Mogg speak for “dad”). If only Ozzy had joined Rees-Mogg on his failed campaign trail, which led to the loss of his North East Somerset seat by some 5,319 votes; I’d definitely have watched Jacob and Ozzy’s Road to Nowhere.

I wish producers wouldn’t play into the narratives politicians spin for their own gain — it can be destructive

But the news that Sir Jacob is getting into the reality game perhaps shouldn’t be so surprising. Rees-Mogg has always been a made-for-TV man (while his political career, never quite as substantial as you suspect he hoped it might be, looks a bit straight-to-DVD). He is his own invention, and a cartoonish one at that: the monocle as a 12-year-old, or the gothic suits he’s sported since his twenties, the likes of which are easier to find in a fancy dress shop (“I’m thinking… Scrooge? Gomez Addams at a push?”) than on Savile Row.

Though his marriage to Helena de Chair (posh proper) puts him in line for a stately pile (Wentworth Woodhouse) and a fortune (the Fitzwilliam one), the 18th-century aristo thing is actually all a play, which the extravagantly named children help reinforce. He’s from well-to-do but minor Somerset gentry, true, and his dad was of course a big-name newspaper man, but it’s not exactly pure blue blood, especially with one grandfather a dairyman and lorry driver. I wonder if this’ll make it into the show?

It’s a shame he doesn’t make more of this, given it would make him seem rather more real. Some politicians are media-trained, having learnt from publicity gurus. Rees-Mogg, on the other hand, lives his life as though in permanent rehearsal for a production of Brideshead. I think he may have inhaled Right Ho, Jeeves not as a comic novel but an instruction manual, right down to the cufflinks and one-liners. I know I’m not the first person to mention that Jake is playing a part— I just like doing it — and I recognise he’ll make for lively telly. Maybe the show will say everything I just have. But I suspect not, and I do wish producers wouldn’t play into the narratives politicians spin for their own gain. It can actually be rather destructive — see the case of Boris, the joshing cad. And moreover, it’s downright bizarre that production houses allow those who’ve let down their electorate — and in doing so, lose their seat — to live second lives as famous fodder.

Why should Rees-Mogg get a show about him? Why have Ed Balls on Bake Off, and then again on Strictly? Fine, they’re well known — but that shouldn’t be the same as being a celebrity. Politicians should exist to serve us, not entertain us. There’s been criticism of Sir Keir Starmer as dull. Perhaps. But at least it seems unlikely he’s got one eye on the jungle if it all goes pear-shaped. As for Rees-Mogg, maybe this is what’s left of him. Mind you, if he’s really going to go down the Kardashian route, he’ll need to think about merch. Top hat, anyone?

 (The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)

England expects

A decade ago, Ollie Watkins was on loan to semi-professional side Weston-super-Mare. Today he is a national hero, having scored the glorious winning goal in England’s 2-1 defeat of the Netherlands. A game where history was made: when we face Spain on Sunday, England will, for the first time ever, play a major tournament final outside the UK. The last time we were in the Euros final, in 2021, the whole campaign was marked by endless boasts about it coming home . This time? It’s been about pessimism disguised as dismissive indifference, or what you might call a stiff upper lip. Three Lions? Nah, it’s been all about the national anthem. Old English restraint might just be the ticket, then; shutting up never sounded so good.

David Ellis is the Evening Standard’s Going Out editor