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By Liam Herbert

March 25, 2013 | 5 min read

It was all going so well for the Mayor of London; Friday concluded with the announcement that West Ham will be the new key tenant in the Olympic Stadium bringing with it an annual income of £10m per year. A legacy that no other Olympic facility has achieved – apparently.

So, after a successful Friday, with the weekend ahead and nothing more than a gentle Sunday morning interview on the BBC – essentially to plug a BBC documentary to be screened on Monday and to comment on the Budget - life was looking good for Boris Johnson.

Boris is something of a rarity in politics these days. He is a character, a chap with a personality and a stage persona. We are all familiar with his bumbling, untidy, foppish, seemingly well-meaning amateur approach to almost everything. It’s a character he plays well and never better than during the Olympics last year.

This almost universal “Ahh it’s just Boris being Boris” is one of the reasons he seems to have been propelled towards the future as leader of the Conservative Party and from then to Prime Minister. Boris as PM, a normal bloke (albeit a toff) whose views on anything and everything seem as familiar and safe as chatting with your mates in the pub. I mean what’s not to like? He is charming, disarming, intelligent and apparently doing quite a good job in London.

So at the end of 2013 The Boris Bandwagon, it appeared, was on the move.

Step forward then, Eddie Mair – who is increasingly on our TV screens testing the mettle of our current politicians. The reason for this, it is rumoured, is that Eddie Mair is set to take over the lead role on Newsnight– stepping into shoes vacated by Jeremy Paxman when the BBC relaunches the recently troubled BBC2 flagship analytical news show.

So, Sunday morning – depping for Andrew Marr – Eddie Mair in his trademark softly softly style – a less hectoring style than Paxman but nonetheless just as direct – laid his trap for an unsuspecting Boris with a gentle exposition of his “integrity”. This was based on well-worn facts – “mildly sandpapered something somebody said” in attributing a quote when working as a journalist on The Times; lying to Michael Howard, then party leader about an affair and going along with an old friend in a phone call who wanted to “beat up” a journalist - that are discussed in more detail in tonight’s documentary.

What transpired was fabulous political television. I’ve watched it several times now and the quiet way that Mair leaves Johnson to flounder is quite good fun – nothing better than seeing a media trained professional politicians lose the thread.

Having said that, I am not sure that Boris came off so badly in the end. He defended his position well and displayed all of his political tradecraft, even managing to get a couple of humorous lines in at the end. See for yourself, you need to watch the full interview on the BBC iPlayer, not the cut-down versions circulating on social media and media websites.

The real damage, if that is the right view, is how the ensuing media coverage impacts on him. I think it’s fair to say that The Andrew Marr Show is hardly a ratings buster given both its topic and its scheduling – attracting around 1.7m viewers. So the number of people who have actually seen the whole interview will be far fewer than those who take a version of events from the newspapers, online media and Twitter.

I am not convinced that this one interview will have the negative impact that many media commentators were advocating yesterday. Even now the Boris machine is moving to make it clear that all is fair in love and war when it comes to political interviews. Even David Cameron has said previously that we should not underestimate the mayor's "ability to get out of a spot".

The reality is that if Boris Johnson were ever to become leader of the Conservative Party and from there stand on the steps at Number 10 he will face more extreme forensic political analysis and a more challenging time from both the media and his political adversaries – on all sides including his own – than the 15 minutes of infamy this weekend.

Liam Herbert is a director in the PR and parliamentary affairs agency JBP