IN ye olden days of broadcasting (January 2020) any self-respecting Sunday politics show might have upped sticks from London and decamped to Durham.

The cathedral city was where the Prime Minister’s chief aide, Dominic Cummings, headed with his wife, who was showing symptoms of coronavirus, and the couple’s four-year-old son, despite Government advice to stay home.

Sticklers for the rules that they are, both The Andrew Marr Show and Sky News’s Ridge on Sunday decided not to retrace the 260-mile journey from London to Durham. Given the easing of restrictions in England they might have got away with it. Not so Gordon Brewer of Politics Scotland. He would have been nabbed on the M74 heading towards Carlisle.

As it was, even Politics Scotland was caught up in what some papers were dubbing a “Domnishambles”.

Brewer’s main guest was Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture.

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Before he could get on to the pressing matter of how life in Scotland will change should the lockdown restrictions be eased on Thursday – a subject of such interest to the public here that the government website crashed within seconds of the First Minister’s announcement last Thursday – he asked Ms Hyslop about the Cummings story. “He should resign,” she said. And if a couple were in similar circumstances in Scotland? “They should stay at home.”

Elsewhere on the Sunday shows it was not quite that straightforward. Well, not if you were Grant Shapps, England’s Transport Secretary and designated Cummings lightning rod. Having performed in the latter role during Saturday’s Downing Street press conference he was wheeled out to do the same on the Sunday shows.

As on Saturday, all he wanted to talk about was progress on transport during the lockdown. So much good news about road repairs and track maintenance apparently. Alas, no-one wanted to know. All roads led to Durham and there was nothing Mr Shapps could do about it. As Ridge told him after he had a mini moan about the direction of questioning, “I’m sure it is very disappointing not to be able to talk about the A66 as much as you’d like to on the programme.”

Ridge said the show had taken the “really unusual step” the night before of flagging up the questions it wanted Mr Shapps to answer. Among these were: when did Mr Cummings first display symptoms; did he stop on the journey; when was the Prime Minister made aware, and so on.

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When Mr Shapps appeared, however, it was clear he had not done the homework requested. “I’ll admit to being slightly disappointed that you don’t have the detail,” said Ridge.

There was another “dog ate my non-existent homework” on Marr, when Mr Shapps revealed he had not spoken to Mr Cummings before coming on the show.

“I’ve communicated, I haven’t spoken to him directly,” said the Minister.

“Why not? This is a very serious crisis for your government, surely you would have spoken to him?”

“I came on your programme as you know to talk about transport matters….”

“We’ll get on to those,” said Marr. Do you know, he never did.

Both Ridge and Marr made sharp enquiries in the hope of getting some response from the Minister other than “don’t knows” and sentences beginning with “It’s my understanding”. Ridge asked: “Is saving the job of Dominic Cummings really more important than getting people to adhere to the lockdown?” Marr said the Government could keep Dominic Cummings or it could keep the policy intact, but it could not do both.

Try as they did to get answers about Mr Cummings’ initial trip and subsequent sightings, Mr Shapps blocked inquiries with the amiable bluster for which he is known. Final question from Marr was: “Is he going to resign?” Mr Shapps: “No.”

It was becoming clear that not every Tory MP, unlike Ministers the day before, was backing Mr Cummings. BBC Breakfast had been first with an interview with Steve Baker MP, who called for Mr Cummings to go. Ridge was then quick off the mark, rejigging the running order and getting Baker on as well.

“If he doesn’t resign, we’ll just keep burning through Boris’s political capital at a rate we can ill afford in the midst of this crisis,” said the MP. “It is very clear that Dominic travelled when everybody else understood Dominic’s slogans to mean ‘stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives’.”

Mr Baker said that with the PM due to appear before the Liaison Committee of MPs on Wednesday this would not be the end of the matter.

From Sunday shows to Mr Johnson facing questions from a panel of prominent politicians at 4pm on Wednesday. Suddenly, half a week must have seemed a very long time in politics for Number 10.