Therese Coffey is not one of the better known, most media-savvy operators in British politics.

The Work and Pensions Secretary would make a winning answer on Pointless if the category was “MPs elected in 2010”. Otherwise, she would be among the last people a party would choose to fight fires on the Sunday politics shows. Yet here we were.

“The Silence of the Tweets” was the first sign that something was up. The Sunday shows usually announce their line-ups by early Saturday evening. Not this time. The BBC tweet dropped at 23.04, with Sky News following at 06.49 Sunday morning.

Either someone at Downing Street had a taste for the dramatic or they were having a devil of a job finding a Minister prepared to go in the stocks on the Government’s behalf. The last time there was such a no show was the morning after ITV News got hold of a video of Downing Street aides joking about lockdown parties.

With the Sunday papers reporting six new allegations against Chris Pincher, suspended as a Conservative MP last week following claims he groped two men, the push was on to find out what the Prime Minister knew before appointing him deputy chief whip in February.

Over to Ms Coffey and her first appointment, Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday. Was the Minister aware of allegations about Mr Pincher before last week? I’m not part of “that sort of chatter group”, she said.

And the Prime Minister? “He was not aware of specific allegations that had been made.”

Ridge pounced on “specific allegations” and plugged away. “Sorry, I genuinely don’t understand that sentence,” she said after another of Ms Coffey’s attempts to say something while saying nothing.

“I get perhaps it’s easier to just to be able to come on these programmes and say, ‘Look, I don’t know’," said Ridge. "But surely you must ask to try and find out, that’s the first thing most people would do – when did the Prime Minister know? – so when I am asked this question I can give the answer.”

Similar was waiting for Ms Coffey when she faced Sophie Raworth on BBC1’s Sunday Morning. By now the colour was rising on the Minister’s face. It was like watching a lobster being boiled very, very slowly.

Finally, it emerged that she had not spoken to the PM about what he knew and when. She had relied instead on “somebody from the Number 10 press office” briefing her. That would be the same Number 10 press office that consistently denied any parties had taken place in Downing Street during lockdown.

On it went. On Times Radio presenter Carole Walker said: “You almost have to feel sorry for a minister…”.

If Downing Street was relying on Ms Coffey and her train wreck interviews to be a distraction the tactic worked, but not for long. Nor will the strategy survive contact with reality when the Commons meets today.

Andy Burnham, the Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, was having a much jollier time on Sunday Morning answering questions about summer strikes. Should workers be asking for above inflation pay rises, asked Raworth? Did he support the strikes? Would he go on a picket line?

Yes, yes, and yes were the answers, even if he did go round the houses to get there. Why couldn’t Labour leader Keir Starmer be as clear, asked Raworth. Because the Government was “playing politics” the mayor replied, urging Ministers to get round the table, profession by profession.

If Mr Starmer was to step down, as he has promised to do if he is fined for breaking lockdown rules while campaigning in Durham, would Mr Burnham like to replace him?

“First, I can’t because the rules don’t allow it, I’m not a member of the parliamentary Labour party. “Secondly, there isn’t a vacancy and I don’t expect there to be one.”

A smooth operator that one, as was the floor manager of BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show who had to get three guests off and on a precariously high stool without the viewer being any the wiser.

Presenter Martin Geissler did his part by holding up some front pages to distract viewers while the “wrangling” went on off camera.

It would have been seamless, save for Patrick Harvie, co-leader of the Greens, whose shoulder, alas, came into shot.

With the Scottish Parliament now in recess, the telly part of The Sunday Show shuts up shop, leaving the radio show to continue on its lonesome.

Meanwhile, in Westminster, the Commons does not rise till July 21. Downing Street must be delighted.