The BBC’s Chris ‘Mr Blobby’ Mason explains going viral in excruciating detail

There are still way more questions about Brexit than answers, says chipper BBC political correspondent Chris Mason

It is like having a picture of your gurning face sticky-taped to the side of a rocket.

While you’re getting on with your day, the Cape Canaveral countdown has begun.

As you take the bins out, that countdown reaches single figures.

As you iron your clothes, badly, it all looks orange and hot at the base of the launchpad.

And as you try, and fail, to persuade your three-year-old daughter not to lick that shop window on the way to the newsagents, the pointy bit of metal, complete with your mugshot, is hurtling towards the heavens.

Before you even know it, it is out of sight and out of  control.

I speak of the experience of ‘going viral’.

If you had used those words a decade ago, people would have assumed you’d copped a bout of volcanic winter lurgy and would have politely postponed that long-planned catch-up. ‘Going viral’ certainly wasn’t something to aspire to. I’m not entirely sure it is now. Let me take you to where it happened.

College Green, Westminster.

Yes, that patch of grass opposite Parliament that in recent weeks has been festooned with gazebos of guesswork. Telly engineers pitch their flimsy tents, telly reporters, me included, pitch up with occasionally even more flimsy analysis. And more about that in a moment.

I’ll tell you who’s also been there: the kind of American and Japanese networks that usually require an imminent regal arrival in the Lindo Wing to justify broadcasting from this corner of northern Europe. But it’s not always been so fashionable to ramble on from this spot.

Brexit is like having your house rewired

A few weeks before all that hullabaloo in the run-up to Christmas, I was stood there on my tod. Seven o’clock in the morning, and dawn hadn’t even contemplated cracking. I was wittering on about Brexit, as it feels I have been since shortly after learning to walk. I’m 39 in April. And let’s be frank: I was boring myself.

Here’s why.

Brexit is like having your house rewired.

Everyone gets that it’s a big job, but that doesn’t mean it’s riveting when the electrician is insistent on telling you what it’ll mean for the fuse in that socket you didn’t even know you had behind the wardrobe upstairs.

But, worse than that, we had all been reduced to talking, in mind-rotting, labyrinthine detail, about a very long list of things that may or may not happen, without having the faintest idea about exactly what would. So I decided, pretty much on the fly, to be very blunt.

I told Louise Minchin and Dan Walker on BBC Breakfast that I didn’t have the foggiest idea what was going to happen next and they might as well ask Mr Blobby.

Dear reader, everyone’s favourite rotund, pink character of the Nineties isn’t a regular occupier of my spontaneous thoughts. But he had just had a mention a few minutes before, as I paced around in the dark, brass monkeys, working out what I was going to say.

I was to discover that in this world of social media, broadcasting isn’t the wonderfully ephemeral game it once was, where that word, that sentence, that report, is uttered, half heard and forgotten in an instant. Oh no.

Stuff gets clipped up for Twitter and Facebook and that viral rocket can quickly be airborne. First it was the Daily Express, the London Evening Standard and the Guido Fawkes political website.

And then it crossed the Atlantic; that august journal The Washington Post deeming it worthy of discussion.


In total, more than 92,000 people have sold The Big Issue since 1991 to help themselves work their way out of poverty – more than could fit into Wembley Stadium.

Next, I wake up to discover the newspaper Le Parisien has dubbed me into French, Monsieur Blobby and all. And then John Oliver decided to play it on his talk show on HBO in the States.

Mercifully, it seemed to go down pretty well, although some of the commentary, ranging from the breathless to the pious, did seem to over-interpret 40 seconds of ad-libbing in the dark.

All I said was what everyone in my game knew as the fundamental truth of where we were: no one knew what was going to happen. Which brings us to today. And you know what?

Yes, loads has happened since then. And, yet, nothing at all. Days groaning with jeopardy and drama, but we are still none the wiser. Is Theresa May doomed? Eventually, yes, but imminently? Dunno.

Will there be a withdrawal agreement? Both sides hope so, but dunno.

Will there be a no-deal Brexit? Probably not, but dunno.

Could Brexit be delayed? Possibly, but dunno.

Will there be another referendum? Feels a bit more likely than it did, but… dunno.

As 2019 begins, there is a vast amount that is unknowable. Or to put it another way, I still haven’t got the foggiest idea what is going to happen. And here’s the thing: neither has anyone else.