FOR all his erudition, Andrew Marr, like many a television presenter, is in the carnival barker game. He has to persuade viewers to roll up and out of their beds of a Sunday morning, and if that means exercising a little showmanship, sprinkling some razzle dazzle on the humdrum, then so be it.

He began yesterday’s show by saying that it looked like ordinary political life had resumed after a frenzied year dealing with Brexit. Not so.

“Boris Johnson has a formidable task drawing up a new trade agreement with the EU ahead of him, there is a real royal crisis, while a shattered opposition still haven’t managed to regroup, find a new leader and a new way ahead.

“Apologies if you’d hoped it was all going quiet. It’s as wild as ever!”

As it happened, Marr had a guest who was in every sense a genuine box office draw.

The BBC’s Sunday show is meant to be the television equivalent of a Sunday newspaper, with lighter material balancing the heavier political fare.

Previous arts guests have included the director Sam Mendes, talking about his movie 1917, Scots actor Brian Cox, the musician James Blunt, and the saxophonist Jess Gillam.

The arts filling in the politics sandwich yesterday was one James McAvoy. The Glasgow-born actor is earning toasty reviews for his performance as Cyrano de Bergerac at the Playhouse Theatre in London. Directed by Jamie Lloyd and adapted by Martin Crimp, it is a stripped-back version of Rostand’s nineteenth century play. It is so back to basics there is no set, no period costumes, no props, and controversially, no large nose for Cyrano.

McAvoy was fine with that. It’s not about the nose, he insisted. “It is described as being hideous, ugly, all these things. It never is. It’s usually a bit bulbous, it’s maybe a bit long, but I think there is always somebody out there who would fancy a bit of that.”

Now, you might think being on a politics show would involve talking about current affairs. It depends on the guest, however. Some are comfortable talking about politics, others steer clear.

Anyone tuning in yesterday to hear McAvoy’s hot take on indyref2, if indeed he even has one, would have been disappointed. Perhaps Marr chose not to ask, or McAvoy did not say anything of note. Either way, the subject failed to make an appearance.

The liveliest moment came when Marr brought up Martin Scorsese’s comments about superhero movies. The director of Raging Bull and The Irishman put the CGI cat among the pigeons recently when he said special effects- laden superhero movies were not proper cinema because there was no genuine jeopardy.

He told Empire magazine: “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”

Among McAvoy’s most famous roles is Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies. His reaction to Scorsese’s comments?

“He’s Martin Scorsese, he can say what he likes. But I would also hope that he’s watched every single superhero movie. I’ve watched some of them and they are dross, and I’ve watched some of them that have moved me to tears, made me really feel and think. Some of them have terrified me and scared me in ways that his [Scorsese’s] movies have never done.”

With that it was back to the studio and politics as usual. Even here there was an attempt to inject some drama into proceedings. Marr’s final guest was Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, and one of those hoping to be the new Labour leader.

By today, in common with the other candidates, Thornberry must have secured the backing of at least 22 MPs/MEPs to proceed to the next round of the contest. By yesterday she was still short by more than half. Tick tock.

Ms Thornberry said she was “fairly confident” she would get enough votes. She put her slow start in the race down to the party being in a general state of “grief” after the disastrous showing in the General Election.

Thus far, the Labour leadership contest has been a “prolier than thou” contest to see who has the strongest working class roots. In keeping with this, Marr asked Ms Thornberry about her now infamous 2015 tweet in which she posted a picture of a white van outside a house that was draped with St George’s flags. You appeared to be sneering, he said.

I wasn't, said Thornberry. “The truth is I was brought up on a council estate, in a house that looks very similar to [that], my brother was a builder until he had an accident. I’ve got a sister who is a bus driver. I don’t sneer at people … I am a successful woman but I have had a struggle getting here.”

Sounds like the beginnings of a beautiful film script. Ah, but who would play Ms Thornberry?