Thanks to Darlene Taylor's heads-up at Larvatus Prodeo yesterday morning as the Bracks news broke, I was able to rush out to the telly to watch events unfold. I flicked through the channels and found a live cross at Nine, where an excited young reporter was standing in the street telling the story. Bracks had made his announcement to his Cabinet and was expected to arrive at any moment for the press conference.
Not being any kind of daytime TV watcher as a rule, I had no idea what it was a live cross from until they crossed back to the studio to reveal Kerri-Anne Kennerley, framed against the backdrop of an oddly funereal floral arrangement and looking (Kerri-Anne, not the flowers) suspiciously paralysed about the mouth and eyes. The director then cut to her guest: none other than Sir Ian McKellen, still gazing intently at the monitor and clearly enjoying this little bit of unexpected drama.
When he realised the camera was on him, he sat up and spoke directly to it. 'And people ask me why I do Shakespeare!' he exclaimed, in a flawless segue from the interruption back into his conversation with Kerri-Anne. Currently in Australia playing King Lear, McKellen picked up the breaking Bracks news and ran with it, talking about Lear and family dramas and the abdication of power, and pointing out, quite rightly, that Shakespeare's plays are basically about things that we all see happening around us every day.
It was an amazing impromptu performance and it was perfectly tailored to Kerri-Anne's audience: conversational, interesting, charming, clearly expressed, and a brilliant bit of incorporation. And it was immediately followed, daytime television being what it is, by an excruciatingly protracted infomercial full of hyper-nasal, brain-damaged Valley Girl voices extolling the virtues of a miracle cure for acne.