Former Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is set to deliver this year’s Alternative Christmas Message on Channel 4.
The broadcast, which runs simultaneously with the traditional Queen’s speech on BBC One and ITV, will see the politician – who became a media personality through his bombastic parliament manner and headline-grabbing Brexit decisions – present a message of democracy and civility.
Reflecting on a divisive year in global and national politics, Bercow says: “All around the world, populism – and the promise of simple solutions to complex problems – has taken hold with a vice-like grip.”
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s crucial for everyone to be free to say what they think and for politicians to respond. But democracy shouldn’t be about decibel levels.”
“Before you say anything, yes, I’ve been known to raise my voice – but that was just to keep order!” he jokes, alluding to his Commons catchphrase.
Bercow also discusses the need to re-establish a “civility of discourse” in UK politics, and states that contrary to public perception, the majority of politicians are simply well-intentioned public servants, trying to do right by their constituents.
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Channel 4’s Alternative Christmas Message has aired every year since 1993, and has featured a diverse list of presenters, including former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, children who survived the Grenfell Tower Disaster, the Reverend Jessie Jackson and The Simpsons. Last year’s speech was delivered by Danny Dyer.
It has been a whirlwind year for Bercow personally, as his involvement in the parliamentary Brexit proceedings placed him front-and-centre in the political news cycle.
After stepping down as Speaker – having occupied the role for 10 years – Bercow has discovered a promising career as a media personality, and was even briefly tipped to star in the recent series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!.
The Alternative Christmas Message airs on Christmas Day (25th December) 2019 at 2:25pm on Channel 4