Simon McCoy: ‘Everyone thinks I’m not a fan of the royal family – but I still watch The Crown’

The nation's favourite sarcastic BBC newsreader says the monarchy enjoyed his 'matter-of-fact' royal baby reports

On the 20th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, crowds of people gather to pay their respects, and to lay flowers, pictures and messages at the memorial to her on 31st August 2017 at Kensington Palace in London, United Kingdom. BBC correspondent and newsreader Simon McCoy reports from the scene. Diana, Princess of Wales became known as the People's Princess following her tragic death, and now as in 1997, thousands of royalists, and mourners came to her royal residence in remembrance. (Getty/FC)

We’re used to seeing you on BBC News, or outside a hospital announcing a royal birth. Do you have time to watch TV?

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It’s on a lot. In the mornings, I get up and I put on the news and when I get home I’ll watch again just to make sure I haven’t missed anything in the last hour or two. And I’m a binge-watching fiend.

What’s the view from your sofa?

I have quite a big telly with two large surround-sound speakers either side. When all the lights are off, it’s the only thing I can see in the room. “Cinema experience” may be overstating it, but that’s what I’m aiming for. I have an old leather sofa and for me the perfect evening would be sitting on this battered old thing with fish, chips and ketchup – and catch-up.

What’s the last thing you really enjoyed on TV?

Jack Ryan on Amazon Prime is fantastic. If you’re a Tom Clancy fan, it does it justice and doesn’t disappoint. I also loved Killing Eve – it was just the best thing I’ve seen for ages. Jodie Comer is superb.

Do you watch The Crown?

I do, yes! Everybody thinks I’m not a huge fan of the monarchy. I really am, there are just bits of it I think we don’t necessarily need to know.

You’ve gained notoriety and gone viral on the internet plenty of times – notably for your very honest coverage of Prince George’s birth, from outside St Mary’s Hospital. Do you know if the royals saw it?

I do know they were watching in the hospital when the Duchess of Cambridge was giving birth to Prince George and I was outside. Someone told me the family thought I’d got it absolutely right. They were watching and wondering what on earth was going on outside. Nothing was happening, and I said as such – and it’s much better than some of my rivals who were speculating on the level of dilation. I think once you get into that realm of commentating, you’ve lost the plot.

What did your bosses at the BBC say? Did you get a ticking off?

Not directly. There were perhaps a few raised eyebrows, but it’s enough to say, “No, nothing’s happened,” rather than spending ten minutes saying why nothing’s happened. I think that’s what people want. They want to believe you, to trust you and they don’t want you to fill for hours on end. I’m not brilliant on birth. I was at the birth of my son and that’s enough for me. And it was at the same hospital! But I wasn’t going to say that on air, because they’d have asked me what cutlery they use in there and I didn’t want to go into that sort of detail.

What did you make of being a viral sensation?

I’d rather that I was than I wasn’t – I think it’s great that people see there’s more than one side to anybody who reads the news.

Is your subtle cynicism genuine – or are you actually quite happy-go-lucky?

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I’m totally happy-go-lucky. It’s not so much cynicism… I think it’s more understanding what the viewer may be thinking. I don’t want to pretend that we at the BBC think that dog surfing is a big news story, but we’re as much about light as shade, and if we’re seen to be able to do both, that’s not a bad thing. There’s so much grim stuff going on, I think it’s important that every now and then we all have a bit of a laugh.